Women in Guatemala experience one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Latin America. In rural communities, up to 75% of women give birth at home with midwives and often experience difficulty in accessing care in medical facilities when it is necessary. Consistent care is needed before and after birth to ensure the health of mothers and infants.
The safe+natal program combines low-cost technology to support midwives in decision-making for their patients, continuous access to medical staff and logistical support for emergencies, and assistance for patients in navigating care options. Geographic, financial, and cultural barriers to accessing high-quality care for pregnant women and neonates are greatly reduced through safe+natal. Program results show increased completion of medically necessary referrals to facilities, leading to reductions in maternal and infant deaths. Participating midwives have reported increased confidence in referring patients and in interacting with medical facilities, and this improved collaboration across care providers leads to better integration of health care and improved patient experiences.
The safe+natal project has been funded by the U.S. National Institutes for Health and the Charles Hood Foundation. It currently supports 42 midwives in rural Guatemala using the device and engaging in improved referral to medical facilities. Training of midwives, implementation of the project, and liaising with regional medical facilities has been conducted by Wuqu’ Kawoq│Maya Health Alliance, a local health NGO dedicated to provision of high-quality care accessible to rural Guatemalans. The safe+natal team is seeking expansion to other global sites with under-resourced maternal health care.