Frontier Market Scouts: “The Role of Social Entrepreneurship in Midwifery”

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The following blog post was written by Malorie Brown, a Frontier Market Scout.

After the two week Frontier Market Scouts course at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, I came to realize that social entrepreneurship is not just about poverty alleviation. In fact, there is a real practical application for social entrepreneurship especially in the field of public health, and more specifically, for midwifery. According to the World Health Organization, about 1000 women and 10,000 newborns could be saved each day, if a skilled midwife attended these births. However, midwives are in short supply, and in countries were midwifery is practiced, pregnant women in rural areas often lack access to midwifery services.

“Many maternal and newborn deaths can be prevented if competent midwives assist women before, during and after childbirth and are able to refer them to emergency obstetric care when severe complications arise”. -WHO

However, a number of enterprises have been established to meet this need. One such enterprise is MoTech Mobile Midwife. MoTech is a mobile phone service that offers medical information to prenatal, pregnant, and post-partum women in Ghana; this service also connects pregnant women with their local medical practitioners . So far nurses, or other medical professionals, use the information provided by MoTech for record keeping and to give appointment reminders to patients . However there is still a need for home visits, which could mean the extension of MoTech information to midwives as the business scales up.

Well-Family Midwifery Clinic (WFMC) is another innovative enterprise. WFMC is a network of midwifery clinics throughout the Philippines. The use of a franchise model for midwifery services has allowed the streamlining of midwifery standards and practices . It has also enabled “freelance” midwives to establish their own clinics and gain access to a network of other midwives, access to technology and supplies, continued professional education, and the development of entrepreneurial skills .

These models for maternal care could be used in many developing countries across the globe. Ultimately, a single innovative social entrepreneur, with a passion for improving the conditions for prenatal, laboring, and post-partum women in developing countries, could have tangible, life saving implications for us all.

Links to innovative Midwifery Enterprises and Resources
• Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development http://www.savinglivesatbirth.net/
• Well-Family Midwifery Clinic http://www.wfmc.com.ph/wfmc.htm
• MoTech Mobile Midwife http://www.motechproject.org/index.html

Citations:
World Health Organization. 10 Facts on Midwifery. http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/midwifery/en/index.html (retrieved June 15, 2012)
ibid.
MoTech. http://www.motechproject.org/about/implementations.html (retrieved June 15, 2012)
Grameen Foundation & MoTech. “Mobile Midwife Initiative by Grameen Foundation” [Video]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vPVLqVLOmM (retrieved June 15, 2012)
Well-Family Midwife Clinic. About WFMC. http://www.wfmc.com.ph/wfmc.htm (retrieved June 15, 2012)
Well-Family Midwife Clinic. Franchising. http://www.wfmc.com.ph/franchise.htm (retrieved June 15, 2012)

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