A consortium of international health stakeholders just issued a call for collaboration to expand the use of technology in reducing maternal and newborn mortality. The call was issued by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), an international alliance of 280 governments and development community members working to reduce maternal and infant mortality. This group has garnered the support of high-profile organizations such as the mHealth Alliance, a cross-sector organization launched in 2009 by the Rockefeller, UN and Vodafone Foundations. When organizations such as these collaborate, they are actually shaping how governments will use and demand technology in the future.
Maternal and child health has captured broad attention throughout the development community. Reducing maternal and child mortality is the stated goal of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, and they are the goals that have seen the least amount of progress. The recognition that insufficient progress has been made in these areas is illustrated by the emergence not only of the consortium, but of other organizations such as Advanced Development for Africa (ADA), a new foundation dedicated to scaling African health programs with a focus on maternal and child health as well as communicable diseases. And The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced $1.5 billion in funding over the next five years for maternal and child health, family planning and nutrition.
Multinational companies seeking to expand the reach of their technology solutions in the developing world can advance their goals by getting involved with the development community early. By identifying and mobilizing resources towards key issues, the development community is influencing the health agenda and ultimately the technologies that governments procure. For instance, a new partnership between the Carlos Slim Institute for Health, the Gates Foundation, the Government of Spain and the Inter-American Development Bank promises $150 million to Mexican and Central American governments to support maternal health, nutrition, vaccination, anti-dengue and anti-malaria campaigns. Joining forces with leading organizations and emerging alliances in public-private partnerships can help multinationals get a seat at the table and shape the new demand for healthcare technologies.