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Changemakers Maternal Health Competition

Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth recently announced a new competition for innovative solutions for maternal health. The Young Champions of Maternal Health Program will use the Changemakers online platform to identify 16 young leaders from around the world who will win a trip to the Maternal Health Change Summit in India and spend nine months working abroad on a maternal health project, mentored by an Ashoka Fellow. Additionally, maternal health organizations can enter to win one of three $5,000 in-kind Changemakers prizes.

Each year 536,000 women die of complications during pregnancy or childbirth – that’s around 1 death per minute. What’s astonishing is that 99% of these deaths are in developing countries. Most of the complications, such as post-partum hemorrhage, infections, eclampsia and prolonged or obstructed labor, that lead to death or severe injury can be prevented or treated with quality reproductive health services.While improving maternal health is one of the Millennium Development Goals, not enough progress has been made. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that maternal mortality has decreased at an average of less than 1% annually. The world needs more solutions.

At Acumen Fund, we’ve seen the difference that innovative business models can make in making quality reproductive care accessible to those who do not receive adequate care from the public sector and cannot afford to go to a private hospital. We’ve invested in LifeSpring Hospitals, a network of low-cost, high-quality maternal and child healthcare hospitals in India. LifeSpring’s services include prenatal and postnatal care, normal and caesarean deliveries and family planning services, at prices that are 30-50% below market rates. Since our investment, LifeSpring has grown from 1 hospital to 9 hospitals, and has provided quality, dignified care to approximately 80,000 patients.

If you have an innovative idea that has the potential to change the field of maternal health, now is the time to share it. The deadline for ideas is March 3, 2010, and winners will be announced on June 16th.

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