Maternal mortality is still a major problem in Nigeria and it ranks among the highest in the world. A joint report by WHO, UNICEF, and World Bank in 2015, estimates that Nigeria has approximately 58,000 maternal deaths – which accounts for about 19% globally.
This means that at least 814 women die in every 100,000 live births due to infection during childbirth, with the northeast accounting for the larger percentage. This is a reduction from the 1,170 deaths recorded at the turn of the century (30.4% decrease).
As positive as this may seem, it also shows that the rate of reducing these deaths have been very slow, no thanks to the gaps in the healthcare delivery value chain which causes an unavailability of clean birth kits for women in underserved communities.
But an healthtech startup has identified and is filling these gaps. Meet HelpMum.
Founded in 2017 by Dr Abiodun Adereni, HelpMum uses mobile technology and low-cost birth kits to tackle maternal and infant mortality. The startup provides clean birth kits to ensure that any pregnant woman is given the best possible care during delivery.
Each kit includes 10 maternity pads, a sterilised delivery mat, two sterilised gloves, antiseptic soap, methylated spirit, pack of gauze, cotton wool, scalpel blade and disinfectants to help pregnant women during delivery and prevent avoidable deaths caused by infection or inadequate birthing equipment. And these kits are quite affordable, going for N2000.
In addition to providing birth kits, the startup uses a Vaccination Tracking System (VTS) to send SMS reminders to nursing mothers to take their babies for immunisation. This is done after a person must have logged on to the website and filled in their details.
These reminders are delivered to women in indigenous languages. This allows for easier communication and helps mothers protect their kids against diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.
Also, the startup provides training for Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs),
on the use of its delivery kits and provides them with the lifesaving drug, Misoprostol, to curb postpartum hemorrhage. This is to help women in disconnected communities where access to proper healthcare is limited.
Currrently, the startup serves various communities in the Southwest in states like Lagos, Oyo, Ondo and Osun. They have also reached 16,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers so far.
Since inception, the platform has received various grants to help them scale their impact. This includes the Google Impact Challenge grant of $250,000 in 2018, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) grant of $5,000.
Over the next one year, HelpMum aims to reach 100,000 pregnant women directly with their clean birth kits, and to economically empower 2,000 community health workers and traditional birth attendants.