The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the computing company Intel today unveiled a joint effort to strengthen the skills of midwives and community health workers through technology, in a bid to reduce the number of pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths across the world.
The initiative will increase the capacity of health workers around the world through software and technical assistance provided by Intel Corporation, and wider availability of higher-quality education through training and materials from UNFPA.
Intel will build on its commitment to the UN Every Woman, Every Child initiative to help train one million frontline health workers by 2015 under the Intel 1Mx15 Health project.
An estimated 360,000 women die in pregnancy or childbirth and up to two million babies die within the first 24 hours of life, largely because of a lack of access to properly trained health workers, according to the UN.
The UNFPA-Intel initiative will use an existing health care education platform to provide open access multi-media content delivery in an “anytime, anywhere” capacity. The content delivery and assessment platform will train midwives and other health-care workers.
Intel will also work with various governments to help increase the availability, affordability and usage of technology.
UNFPA, for its part, will develop the training content with relevant partners and professional organizations. The agency will also engage stakeholders to ensure the sustainability and multiplier effect of the programme.
“By increasing the accessibility and affordability of ICT [Information Communications Technology] solutions, we would be able to equip the workforce with the correct tools to improve women and children’s health,” said Mike Gann, director of global health care for the World Ahead Program at Intel. The programme will pilot in countries with high rates of maternal and newborn deaths.
“With this innovative collaboration, we are putting game-changing technology into the hands of the people who are saving the lives of women and newborns around the world,” said Werner Haug, the director of UNFPA’s technical division. “UNFPA is inspired by Intel’s commitment and we look forward to strengthening the work for safe motherhood.”