Author: Samia Razzaq
Development is the act of providing a better life for the world by means of services, opportunities, and information. This can be achieved through myriad means, but we at IPAL focus on ICTD. Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) uses technology to solve development problems for the marginalized or underdeveloped. From interventions in agriculture, health, or education to social enterprising and finance, ICTD is a broad and multidisciplinary field with numerous applications.
Despite the multitude of options, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) has always been my core interest. Childbirth and child mortality rates are alarmingly high in the developing world—an Ethiopian child is thirty times more likely to die before age five than his Western European counterpart, and 70% of worldwide child deaths are from preventable causes. Between the staggering numbers and personal observations in my developing world home, Pakistan, MCH has become my passion.
Every life has a unique story to tell, and thus every life is priceless. And armed with the knowledge that many childbirth mortality cases are preventable, in many cases with a few simple steps, this heartbreaking problem may seem straightforward. However, complex social issues are also at play here. Malnourishment in underdeveloped or drought-stricken areas affects many expecting mothers. Lack of family planning, immunization issues, bad sanitation, and many other factors play a major role in reducing the survival rate of mothers and children, long after a successful childbirth.
Fortunately, many organizations and institutions are now tackling MCH issues to reduce mortality rates. The Millenium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5, “Reduce Child Mortality” and “Improve Maternal Health,” respectively, have made huge amounts of progress, as have subsequent efforts.
This continuing progress came to a climax last month, at the 67th World Health Assembly. The WHA is the highest decision-making body of the World Health Organization. From May 19th to 24th, experts discussed and debated the current status of health situations and the post-2015 framework for the MDGs. Regarding MCH concerns, the WHO held, “Member states approved a global monitoring framework on maternal, infant and young child nutrition.” The release goes on to explain the nutritional challenges: “Ministers of agriculture, health and foreign affairs are expected to adopt a global policy framework for the next decade to address the major nutrition challenges of under nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity and noncommunicable diseases resulting from an unbalanced diet.”
I am happy to say that here at IPAL we are working on an ICTD solution for a widespread MCH issue: immunization. We hope to widen the net of immunization, help educate families on the benefits of child vaccination, and work with public health institutions. We are doing our part to improve mother-child health, and while much has been accomplished, we still have a lengthy path to travel.
*The views stated are those of the author and do not denote views of organization.