Accelerating Healthcare Access: Every Mother and Child Thriving

What are the biggest challenges in providing good quality healthcare to people in developing countries? And how are leading social entrepreneurs and business experts working together to overcome these barriers?

Accelerating Healthcare Access (AHA!) is a collaboration between Ashoka, the Philips Foundation, and other leading organizations. We invite you to join us to explore the answers to the above questions in our webinar series.

Webinar 1: Every Mother and Child Thriving 
September 25, 2019 - 14:00 CEST, 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time

In our first webinar, we will focus on the role of technology in reducing maternal mortality in developing countries, in response to the World Health Organization’s analysis of 2018 on this issue. Five experts on the topic will discuss how we can overcome the system barriers and root causes that hinder primary mother and childcare and why this is so important. 

We have made enormous progress in the area of technology and medicine over the past 10 years. Vaccines against deadly diseases, DNA sequencing, stem cells research, face transplants and surgeries that can now be conducted via few millimeters’ orifice. However, there is still a lot to be done. In recent years, around 830 pregnant women are dying every day. Around 303,000 maternal and 2.6 million neonatal deaths were registered in 2015 alone. With the technology and science within reach, could it be possible that these deaths could have been prevented by providing access to basic healthcare? 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018), the majority of the 830 mothers who daily lose their lives die from preventable causes. 99% of the cases occur in developing countries and their fragile community settings, located in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, with limited access to healthcare. While the maternal mortality ratio in developed countries is 12 per 100.000 live births, in developing countries this proportion reaches 239 in every 100.000 (WHO, 2015).

Maternal deaths: where and why

Medical monitoring before, during, and after childbirth can save lives. It is therefore of the utmost importance to take care of this not only in urban centers, but even more urgently in rural, more remote areas. Without access to professional support, women are vulnerable to delivery complications such as severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, and unsafe abortions, according to the WHO.

Aside from poverty and limited access to medical center, the highest affected areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia also deal with low numbers of skilled health workers. Millions of pregnant women give birth without being assisted by a midwife, doctor or trained nurse. Another issue that needs to be addressed is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and access to contraception. Maternal mortality among 15-year-olds is one of the highest in developing countries, 1 in 180 compared to 1 in 4,900 in developed countries.

The path forward

These are troubling figures, but great, creative solutions are already being implemented to combat this problem. The WHO, humanitarian organizations, and social entrepreneurs have been working on impactful projects to reduce maternal mortality worldwide. Between 1990 and 2015, there was an improvement of 44%. Data from the World Bank shows that the global mortality rate of children under five dropped from 93 per 1.000 live births in 1990 to 39 in 2017.

But we’re obviously not there yet. That’s why the Philips Foundation and Ashoka are hosting Every mother and child thriving, a webinar which will be broadcast on September 25, 14:00 CEST. It will feature a discussion between carefully selected topic experts, including a social entrepreneur, a Philips expert, and delegates from PharmAccess and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, about what is already being done and can be done in the future to overcome the system barriers and root causes that hinder primary mother and childcare. It would be great if you can join us.



In this webinar, we present a variety of great approaches to addressing this topic in different parts of the world.  You'll hear about mobile games that guide new mothers through pregnancy and infant care, the Gates Foundation's contributions to the field, CPAP machines for babies, improved medicine delivery techniques for mothers, Philips CHARM monitors for childhood pneumonia, and other creative solutions to the problem of infant mortality in the developing world.


HilmiI  Quraishi

Together with his brother Subhi, social entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow Hilmi Quraishi created ZMQ, a pioneer in using games for development as a sustainable model to create behavior change. ZMQ focuses on Health, WASH, Nutrition, ARSH, Agriculture, Environment, and Energy. One of the initiatives is the MIRA channel, which enables women to improve health indicators by self-managing their health, by building knowledge and creating awareness on critical health issues, and ultimately connecting them to the public health services.




Ankur Kaul

With a background in finance, Ankur Kaul found his professional fulfillment playing a role in healthcare focusing on emerging markets. As Product & Marketing Manager for Philips Healthcare, Ankur is responsible for creating solutions and innovations that can deliver primary care in developing countries. Among projects, Ankur leads the introduction of the app Philips Mobile Obstetrics Monitoring (MOM), which allows community healthcare workers to perform antenatal risk stratification, receive diagnostic assistance, and assess a patient’s progress via a mobile device.




Dr. Queen Dube

As Pediatrician at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), the largest tertiary unit in Malawi, Dr. Queen Dube works on identifying challenges in neonatal care, developing and implementing new solutions. Dr. Dube teaches medicine students and leads research on pediatric HIV, neurodevelopment, and neonatal infections. Together with Rice University students, she has implemented solutions that help mothers to manage preeclampsia during pregnancy, a device to control body temperature in newborns, and other innovations aimed at reducing the rate of newborn mortality.




Faith Muigai

With over 20 years’ experience in healthcare, Faith Muigai is currently the Regional Director for the SafeCare Program with the PharmAccess Foundation- an internationally recognized program amplifying quality and excellence in health service delivery. Her leadership contributed to achieving SafeCare Level 5 - the first health facility in East Africa and third in Africa to attain this level of certification.  Faith has designed and implemented local and regional healthcare projects in East Africa and has participated in local and national health collaboratives that positively impact healthcare services.




Jeffrey Smith

Jeffrey Smith is the Deputy Director of Implementation Research and Demonstration for Scale on the Maternal, Newborn & Child Health team at Gates Foundation. Jeffrey holds 25 years of clinical and public health experience in developing countries, across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. When acting in Asia, Jeffrey supported a variety of public health programs in Nepal, Afghanistan, and Thailand. He guided the maternal health team for Jhpiego on USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program. Moreover, he has authored numerous publications related to improving the quality of clinical services, expansion of the health workforce, and scaling up proven clinical interventions for women and girls, mothers, and newborns.