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An App for Healthy Pregnancies Wins Award

A healthcare app developed in Berkeley is the winner of a $10,000 innovation award from Ashoka Changemakers for technology that improves the lives of women and girls.

Hesperian Health Guides created the Safe Pregnancy and Birth Mobile App to help pregnant women stay healthy and reduce maternal deaths worldwide. A 2010 World Health Organization report found pregnancy complications kill 1,000 women every day.

Hesperian's executive director Sarah Shannon said the app is being used by pregnant women, family members, and health care workers. She said it's particularly useful for health care trainers in developing countries.
    
These are "people who are training community health care workers who may not have a lot of formal experience," said Shannon, "but are the ones who may be with a pregnant woman when she's experiencing an emergency. They might be formal trainers, they might be Peace Corps volunteers, they might be volunteers who are coming in from another country, or even from a Ministry of Health." 

The Safe Pregnancy and Birth app employs informative illustrations to convey information -- a tool the non-profit health education organization uses widely in its health literature. Line drawings inside the app demonstrate techniques such as how to prevent shock at home, or when transporting a pregnant woman to a medical facility.
         
"It also makes it easier when you're using the app to help educate a family member about what you should watch out for," said Shannon. "It just helps people as a visual cue to remember, 'Oh, yes, I remember seeing that drawing, that's what I know I'll do in the case of an emergency.'" 

Shannon says thousands of volunteer hours went into the app, and the content drew on information from Hesperian literature used by health workers in 50 countries. Hesperian partner UnaMesa Association provided technical work to help create the app.
 

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