Mothers and children are the major building block for the continuance of humanity. It is therefore critical that governments and other stakeholders across the African continent collaboratively develop and implement policies and investment strategies whose primary focus is to bolster the health of women and children. The private sector equally has a critical role to play in holding governments accountable and pushing for impactful change in their countries of operation. Policy and strategy reformation alone cannot drive the necessary and much needed change.
During the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era (2000–2015), most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) made significant progress towards achieving reductions in maternal and child mortality. For instance, the maternal mortality ratio in SSA declined by 45% since 1990 and the annual rate of reduction of under-5 mortality 2000–2015 was 4.1%, two and half times faster compared with the preceding decade. However, major inequalities within countries by socioeconomic status and place of residence still exists.

Maternal facts

    • • The female population accounts for about 50% of the entire population in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • • 94% of all maternal deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries.
    • • The rate of maternal mortality varies significantly across the world and is globally the most inequitably distributed health indicator.
    • • One thousand women die per 100,000 live births in Sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 24 deaths per 100,000 live births in European countries.


The drivers of demand and supply for health services in low-resource settings are more complex than they seem. Africa’s rapid population growth creates a continuous demand for healthcare services but the limited infrastructure restricts supply. Therefore, innovations that can be sustainably integrated within existing healthcare settings could work to provide equitable access to healthcare.

Innovations in maternal health have proven to have the potential to move the needle in saving the lives of mothers and children. Several organisations have invested their skillset, network, and financial resources in crafting relevant innovations. These innovations are expected to have the capability to provide solutions to the ever-growing complications that women and children experience throughout their lifetime. Innovations are often misconstrued to be technological advancements but a simple idea that addresses local situations can be equally innovative.
“Communities, countries, and ultimately the world are only as strong as the health of their women”.
The leading causes of maternal mortality in most Sub-Saharan countries include obstetric haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis, and complications from unsafe abortions. On the other hand, conditions largely responsible for the death of infants and children include preterm birth complications, pneumonia, sepsis, infections, and others. If implemented, certain key innovative interventions can go a long way in drastically reducing the unacceptable maternal and child mortality rates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Partnerships And Collaboration Are Key

The private sector plays a significant role in spearheading healthcare innovations across Africa. This includes the sharing or provision of funding or capital, logistics and supply chain know how, business intelligence and marketing expertise, advocacy and local/international networks, research and development platforms – all necessary for scaling projects and the creation of sustainable, integrated solutions.

AHB provides health innovators business advisory and coaching sessions to better understand their key challenges. We provide research and advisory services that and in work in partnership with innovators, the private sector and the public sector to create workable and sustainable solutions and formulated workplans with impact and scalability. We also facilitate the development of new healthcare solutions by providing innovators public sector scaling support. As an example, we have provided public sector scaling support to maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) innovators.
Notable innovations have received accolades from renown international decision-makers mandated to improve the health of mothers and children. Some of these innovations include:
    • Uterine Balloon Tamponade (UBT) by Centre for Maternal Health Innovations (CMHI) under KMET is a locally available and health facilities can use to avert the deaths and disabilities arising from uncontrolled uterine bleeding after childbirth.
    • The Blue Boxes by North Star Alliance provide essential yet crucial healthcare to sex workers and truck drivers on the move. The blue boxes are repurposed shipping containers painted blue and equipped as clinics situated at border posts, ports, transport companies, parking lots and other hotspots where sex work is common and frequented by truck drivers.
    • Solar-powered oxygen (SPO2) concentrators by IC-Change contributes to saving the lives of children by ensuring constant supply of oxygen to children and other patients in the hospitals in low-resource countries who experience frequent power cuts or unstable supply of electricity.
    • neoGuard by Neopenda increases the response time by nurses to children in distress while admitted in hospitals through its functionality to monitor vital signs.

Sustainable Development Goals 2016–2030

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations member states. It is a call to action to ensure equity and equality in health service provision. SDG 3 includes an ambitious target which aims to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) to less than 70 percent per 100,000 births, with no country having a maternal mortality rate of more than twice the global average. In this regard, all countries in the Sub-Sahara should strive to lessen the evadable maternal and child mortality towards the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC).