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PRE-EMPT at MNCH Tech, a Workshop on Technology for Maternal Newborn and Child Health

Group photo of the attendees of MNCH Tech in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Photo courtesy of Mark Ansermino

One of the primary beliefs of PRE-EMPT's Objective 2 is that technology will play a critical role in meeting the goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health set out by Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3. MNCH Tech, a Workshop on Technology for Maternal Newborn and Child Health, was funded by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies (Vancouver, Canada) and hosted by the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (Stellenbosch, South Africa) from 22-24 February 2017. The primary objective of this workshop was to build a roadmap for technology development to help achieve SDG 3 in maternal, newborn and child health. This workshop convened a select group of leaders in development and deployment of global health solutions, and mobile health technologies, together with key stakeholders from developed and developing countries.

Peter von Dadelszen, Beth Payne, Mark Ansermino, and Guy Dumont among other members of the broader PRE-EMPT community, such as France Donnay and Tatenda Makanga attended the MNCH Tech workshop. At the conclusion of this three-day workshop, we were able to identify five priority projects for improving maternal, neonatal and child health using technology. These projects identified priority health problems, and make use of existing and proposed technologies that our group has the expertise to execute. These technologies were identified as priorities for development, in order to have the greatest impact on maternal, neonatal and child health indicators.

The group agreed that any new technology, coming from our collaboration or the individual participating members, should be developed using interoperable systems. All technological solutions should provide quality data and support existing health system infrastructures. As a group, we committed together to build upon our previous successes in health technology to develop these priority technologies. We have identified the need to establish a core group of clinicians, researchers, and stakeholders to create an open- and sharing- collaboration to ensure the development, evaluation, and scale-up of these innovations:

  1. Fetal Assessment: development of a low-cost, non-invasive and accurate method of identifying the fetus at risk of death that can be used for monitoring during pregnancy and labour.
  2.  Antenatal care: development of a mobile application including point-of-care diagnostics to increase access to effective antenatal care (ANC), without overburdening the existing health system.
  3. Identification of the critically ill child: developing a platform to improve diagnosis of acute infection and severe illness in children - Platform for Identification of Critically Ill Neonates, Infants, and Children (PICNIC)
  4. Patient identification: development of a platform for identifying and tracking women and children through the care process, supporting “smart” triage and referral.
  5. Diagnosis of anemia: development of a low-cost, non-invasive, point-of-care diagnostic test for anemia that could be applicable to children and pregnant women.