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!
Dr. Beth Payne, Co-ordinator of UBC’s Community Level Interventions for Pre-eclampsia (CLIP) research trials, vividly recalls her first day at Mulago Hospital in Uganda, in a ward devoted to women suffering from the complications of pre-eclampsia. Most had no access to health care during their pregnancies. Without simple, inexpensive and effective ways of diagnosing women at risk of the disease, pre-eclampsia was heartbreakingly prevalent and devastating to women’s health.
There was one woman Beth will never forget. She had experienced a seizure and was unconscious, a result of untreated pre-eclampsia. Had she been diagnosed earlier, she probably could have been helped. The doctors had what they needed to treat pre-eclampsia at the hospital but she didn’t have early enough access to the healthcare that would have let her know she was at risk.
The next morning, Beth found out that the young woman and her unborn baby had died. The medical attention she received was just too late. Beth said that if the health workers in the woman’s village had LGTmedical’s Phone Oximeter – an innovative, inexpensive sensor and smartphone app (supported by Grand Challenges Canada) that can easily help to diagnose the early signs of pre-eclampsia – she might still be alive today.