In 2000, the United Nations (UN) published the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to bring much-needed attention to the social, gender, and health inequities worldwide. The fourth and fifth MDGs aim to reduce infant mortality by 2/3 and maternal mortality by 3/4 by 2015. Despite considerable measures taken on global scale to improve maternal and child health, significant challenges continue to disproportionately affect women and children in resource-limited settings. Staggering numbers of preventable deaths occurring every year, 99% in developing countries, remind us that there continues to be massive inequity in access to basic healthcare in the developing world:
One of the key working areas of the World Health Organization for achieving this goal is coordinating research that focuses on improving maternal health in pregnancy, during delivery, and after childbirth. Most of the equipment currently used in developing nations is either donated or imported. While well-intentioned, these donations are frequently discarded after only a few months use due to the inability of hospitals to maintain the equipment and properly train their clinical staff on its use; it has been estimated that 96% of donated equipment becomes unusable within five years of donation. Additionally, imported technology is often prohibitively expensive, resulting in a dependence on unreliable donated equipment. To achieve MDG 5, it is critical that more appropriate devices are created by designing in collaboration with the end-users in developing settings.
Design Innovations for Infants and Mothers Everywhere (DIIME) is a social venture dedicated to improving infant and maternal health disparities in the developing world through the design and implementation of appropriate, high quality, locally affordable, sustainable health care technologies. As a low-profit liability company headquartered in the US, DIIME creates sustainable and long-lasting partnerships with those most impacted by the technology: the local community.
Four devices are currently in different stages of development as a result of collaborations with physicians at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana: a multi-functional labor and delivery bed, a portable delivery and repair assistance device, a low-cost infant respiration monitor, and an autologous blood transfusion device. The autologous transfusion device is currently in the most advanced stage of development and is the company’s current focus.