February 1 to February 7 marks International Development Week (IDW), celebrating Canada’s contribution to international development, especially in improving the health of women and children. The theme this year is “We are making a difference!” The entire week, Grand Challenges Canada will publish short success stories, showing how our Bold Ideas with Big impact are saving and improving the lives of those who need it the most in developing nations. Through Integrated Innovation in global health, the novel projects we support are making a difference!
Doreen, 24, was expecting her first baby. Four months into the pregnancy, a Community Health Worker enrolled her into the Changamka e-voucher program in Vihiga District, Western Kenya. This program (supported by the Saving Lives At Birth Partnership) gives women access to free or subsidized ante and postnatal visits, delivery services and transportation to medical facilities. Doreen was one of the 495 women who received maternity and transport vouchers and was looking forward to her special day.
On her due date, Doreen arrived at Iduku Health Centre at around 4pm, accompanied by her husband. She was duly logged into the system and admitted for delivery. A few hours later, Doreen developed serious complications, a case of foetal distress due to prolonged labour. The only way to save the life of both mother and baby was sending Doreen to the Vihiga District Hospital, 20 kilometers away. However, most women lack the resources to arrange for this kind of transportation.
Because Doreen was part of the transport voucher programme, the duty nurse could call a taxi owner, contracted under that programme, who arrived within minutes. Doreen was rushed to hospital and immediately taken care of by Dr. Odira, the Hospital Superintendent. That night, Doreen gave birth to a healthy baby. Another life saved at birth.