The urgent call for innovation and investment in maternal health

Anton Ioffe - October 29th 2023 - 7 minutes read

As we bear witness to staggering advancements in technology and healthcare, the increase in global maternal health risks highlights an alarming paradox. This critical issue, festering due to the insufficiency of resources and cutting-edge approaches, more severely affects marginalized communities and women of color. This comprehensive article pulls back the curtain on this grave reality while exploring the transformative power of innovation and the potential economic returns from investing in this neglected sector. Also, anticipating the future, it attempts to decode the framework of a robust collaboration between the government and private sectors. Join us as we navigate this urgent issue, underscoring the need for a paradigm shift in maternal healthcare through innovation and investment.

The Growing Concern in Maternal Health Globally

Maternal health crisis is an alarming concern reaching not just within the domestic landscape, but evidently affecting global communities too. Recent data indicates a distressing surge in maternal health risks. Around the world, nearly 800 women lose their lives in childbirth every day. Shockingly, the most perilous period is the first month of a newborn's life, accounting for almost half of all deaths among children under five. Despite advances in many areas of medicine and health, the dark reality is that progress in curtailing global maternal mortality has come to a standstill since 2016. Even more disillusioning is that maternal mortality rates have consistently been on the rise in some countries, the United States included.

A closer look at these daunting figures unveils a grim reality within marginalized communities, with a significant part of this global crisis being borne by women of color. For Black women in the United States, poor maternal health outcomes are alarmingly commonplace, leading to unacceptably high rates of death related to pregnancy or childbirth. The rates of maternal mortality are three to four times higher for Black women than for white women. Furthermore, Black women are more likely to face complications during pregnancy and childbirth, making health care safety and quality improvement initiatives a vital consideration for this demographic.

This crisis encompasses all income and education levels, creating an urgent call for innovative solutions and substantial investments in maternal health. Efforts to combat this crisis shouldn't be limited to treating the symptoms but must also address the root causes, which stem from systemic and societal factors. As the phrase goes, 'maternal health is family health': the risks and repercussions of complications during pregnancy not only take a disastrous toll on women but also significantly impact their children and families. The promising interventions and potential breakthroughs on the horizon bring a ray of hope into this bleak situation, however, the urgency and gravity of the situation demand immediate attention and action.

Why Innovation is the Current Gamechanger

The transformative potential of innovation in maternal health is noteworthy, given the means it provides to combat the challenges confronted by mothers-to-be. Harnessing modern technologies such as genomics and AI can revolutionize maternal health by both predicting and managing potential complications. For instance, genomics can offer personalized insights into a pregnant woman's health, deciphering her genetic predisposition to certain pregnancy-related complications. AI, on the other hand, can be used to analyze patterns and make forecasts based on various health parameters. Such preemptive measures can prove instrumental in averting health crises and ensuring safer pregnancies.

Integration of advanced technology with best practices can significantly elevate the standard of maternal health. One such instance is the utilization of community-based medical personnel like midwives and birth attendants, who function as crucial links in introducing technology-enabled interventions to their respective communities. One such striking intervention is the strategic deployment of treatment bundles that lower the incidence of postpartum hemorrhage, thus mitigating major maternal health risks.

While healthcare innovation serves the immediate requirement of addressing current health risks, it also carries the prospect of reshaping the future of maternal care landscape. The emergence and increasing attention to women's health sector forebodes a promising shift, pointing towards burgeoning opportunities. Technological support is providing the much-needed impetus, and as a result, the industry is paving the way for promising results. This evolution in the focus towards maternal health unlocks immense potential for original thought and revolutionary action, reprising the role of innovation as a gamechanger. This shift marks a pivotal point in our journey towards comprehensive transformation in maternal healthcare. With the call for innovation becoming more pronounced, it is evident that the dawn of a new era is upon us, and every pregnancy can be safe and healthy, marking an evolutionary milestone in the history of maternal healthcare.

The Economic Perspective: Investing in Maternal Health

The omission of maternal health from the mainstream discussions around investment priorities and innovative breakthroughs paints an unsettling picture. Despite these areas being underfunded, under-researched, and underserved, women's health could be one of the most profitable sectors to explore for investors. With nearly four million babies being born every year in the U.S. alone, this represents the immense potential for impact and profitability. This consequential sociodemographic segment has yet been largely untapped in the investment world. Yet, one should not ignore the fact that a healthy pregnancy deterred from complications would ensure a more prosperous and successful future lineage. This in a way creates a positive ripple effect on their families' health and the generations down the line, reinstating women's health not just as a standalone issue but rather a major concern for the society at large.

Recognizing the urgency to act upon the maternal health crisis, particularly within marginalized communities, it is essential to acknowledge the multi-faceted and interrelated nature of the challenges that are currently present. Addressing these will require a comprehensive approach that not only improves access to quality healthcare but also takes social determinants of health into account. As an example, initiatives that aim to create greater economic security could contribute to better health outcomes. Hence, investing in maternal health will not only bring positive change from a societal perspective but could also lead to significant economic growth and stability due to the ripple effect of the improved health outcomes.

While the current situation paints a rather bleak image, it is important to acknowledge the potential for growth and innovation. Increased investment in the field could help uncover strategies to reduce the risk of complications, predict problems before they arise, and provide targeted treatments. This infusion of capital and resources could fundamentally transform the landscape of maternal health, particularly if it is coupled with a concerted effort to increase access to healthcare providers and resources. The opportunity that lies within the realm of maternal health innovation and investment is impressive, with potentially every family around the world as its audience. The investment industry and its stakeholders are urged to seize this potentially life-altering opportunity. Capitalizing on this underserved area could not only result in improved maternal health outcomes but potentially also have a significant positive impact on socioeconomic development, breaking new grounds for generations to come.

Nurturing Society’s Backbone: The Role of Government and Private Sectors

Historical governmental efforts towards improving maternal health outcomes have been noteworthy. For instance, the first-ever federal Maternal Health Day of Action convened under the United States administration marked a significant stride towards addressing systemic health disparities. This culminated in crucial private and public sector investments geared toward enhancing the health outcomes for parents and infants, especially Black, Native American, and rural women who are often disproportionately affected. As part of its follow-up actions, the administration adopted enhanced state-level maternal health data collection, reporting and analysis components. Additionally, telehealth resources were posted on, serving as a practical guide for healthcare providers to incorporate telehealth for prenatal, postnatal, high-risk pregnancy care. Through remote patient monitoring, screening, postpartum depression treatment, and lactation consulting, telehealth initiatives can reduce access barriers to critical healthcare services.

On the flip side, private sectors have immense potential to catalyze advancements in women’s health. As stated by Bill Gates, continued development of new innovations coupled with effective delivery mechanisms can remarkably increase the survival chances for infants during their crucial first days. Midwives and birth attendants can supply life-saving innovations and practices such as interventions that can reduce postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal death. Further, private sector leaders like Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, underscore the importance of concerted efforts to provide women with agency over their healthcare. This can be achieved, not only by supporting countries to access high-quality products for preserving mother's and baby's life but also by investing in the Research and Development (R&D) of unconventional lifesaving strategies.

However, to stimulate positive change in maternal health, collaboration between the government and private sectors is essential. Government policies should prioritize incentives for patient-centered care that focuses on individualized health and social needs. Also, there must be stringent policies to combat cultural biases and discrimination in medical practice, increase provider diversity, and hold responsible those who fail to provide unbiased, quality healthcare. Meanwhile, the private sector must continue propelling R&D efforts and collaborations to address the social determinants of health. By pooling efforts and resources, the public and private sectors can collectively create a healthier, more prosperous, and equal world.


This comprehensive article highlights the urgent need for innovation and investment in maternal health. Despite advances in technology and healthcare, global maternal health risks continue to increase, particularly affecting marginalized communities and women of color. The article emphasizes the transformative power of innovation in predicting and managing potential complications, as well as the economic potential of investing in maternal health. It calls for a paradigm shift in maternal healthcare, with a focus on collaboration between the government and private sectors to address systemic and societal factors. Overall, the article underscores the importance of immediate action and attention to this critical issue.

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