USAID supports the work of EHAS and TulaSalud in Guatemala to reduce maternal mortality

The United States Agency for International Development’s “Development Innovation Ventures” awards $100,000 to the “Healthy Pregnancy” project in Alta Verapaz.

The «Healthy Pregnancy» project, started in 2012 by the Spanish EHAS Foundation and the Guatemalan Association TulaSalud in Alta Verapaz, has been awarded a Stage 1 grant of $100,000 by US Agency for International Development’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) fund to reduce maternal mortality in rural areas of Guatemala through innovative and quality prenatal care for 3,000 pregnant women.

«Healthy Pregnancy» focuses on new diagnostic tools specially designed for use in remote rural areas. The tools include a portable ultrasound system powered by solar panels and test strips for blood and urine analysis that do not require cold chain to keep the samples. Both tools are integrated into a single backpack carried by traveling health brigades which allows isolated communities with high rates of maternal-neonatal mortality to access the highest standard of medical care. While common in developed countries, the health tests made available with this innovative tool are impossible to perform in areas without electricity.

The “Healthy Pregnancy” project was piloted in early 2014 and showed promising indications of success. Supported by the Technical University of Madrid and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance of Guatemala, the pilot, which included 1,000 pregnant women, resulted in a reduction of maternal mortality to zero and a reduction of neonatal mortality by 65%. By detecting health complications on time and avoiding risky emergency transfers during labor, the pilot project showed that the use of these tools can provide quality healthcare that rivals what is offered in urban areas.

The potential of EHAS and TulaSalud’s innovation as an effective yet simple, sustainable, and low-cost prenatal service has won the support of USAID’s DIV to expand in Alta Verapaz to reach 3,000 new pregnant women through five health brigades over a year and a half.

In addition to USAID, the solution has sparked the interest of other international agencies. The Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) is now funding the expansion of the project to a new Department of Guatemala, San Marcos. In the same way, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, has recently confirmed its backing to the initiative. The support from USAID, AECID and IDB, along with the continued support from the Guatemalan Ministry of Health and the Technical University of Madrid, will make Guatemala a leader in the effort to improve access to quality healthcare in a sustainable, equitable, and innovative way.

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