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A Spanish NGP reduces neonatal mortality by 40% and maternal mortality by 35% in rural areas of Guatemala

The Embarazo Saludable project, an EHAS Foundation initiative, winner of the Fundación MAPFRE Best Health Promotion Award, worth 30,000 euros.

Over a 5-year period, a total of 16,000 women have received free healthcare thanks to a portable prenatal care kit that allows obstetric risks to be identified in time and diagnoses to be confirmed remotely.

Her Majesty Queen Sofía will preside over the presentation ceremony for these international awards on 14 June, in Madrid.

The EHAS Foundation, based in Spain, runs the Embarazo Saludable (Healthy Pregnancy) project in Guatemala with the objective of contributing toward a reduction in maternal and infant mortality in rural areas of the country that have little or no healthcare provision and, in many cases, no electrical power. That is why this Spanish NGO trains nurses that work in isolated communities to use a portable prenatal kit that allows obstetric risks to be identified in time and for diagnoses to be confirmed remotely by an expert medical team.

Thanks to this project, in just five years the foundation has treated over 16,000 pregnant women and trained more than 50 nurses in the Guatemalan regions of Alta Verapaz and San Marcos, thus contributing to reducing the neonatal death rate in these regions by nearly 40% and the maternal death rates by 35%, guaranteeing the right of women to safe motherhood.

A backpack that saves lives

According to the WHO, about 830 women and 7,000 newborns die every day due to complications relating to pregnancy, childbirth or puerperium. 99% of these people die in developing countries.

Embarazo Saludable is a commitment that puts innovation and technology at the service of health. The backpack contains a  prenatal healthcare kit specially designed for use in rural areas, an ultrasound scanner that connects with a USB probe that connects to a computer and a system that allows blood and urine samples to be analyzed using test strips that provide immediate results without having to rely on a cold chain to maintain the samples. It also includes a foldable solar panel for use in areas without a power supply and software for collating information generated by prenatal checks. All of this makes it possible for gynecological experts to confirm diagnoses remotely, supervise the quality of care and assess the impact on the patient’s health.

The project is the result of a collaboration between EHAS Foundation and the Guatemalan NGO TulaSalud. The initiative has received funding from the AECID, FOMIN-BID, USAID, UPM and private donations and has started to be replicated in Peru and Equatorial Guinea. Embarazo Saludable has enabled women in the most vulnerable parts of Guatemala to receive prenatal healthcare of a quality similar to that provided in urban areas, thus contributing to risk-free pregnancies.

The EHAS (Hispano-American Health Link) Foundation emerged in 1997 as a joint program between the Polytechnic University of Madrid and the NGO Engineers Without Borders – Association for Development, now known as ONGAWA (Engineering for Human Development). In 2008, three more organizations joined its board of trustees: the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC), the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) and the University of Cauca, Colombia.

The Fundación MAPFRE Awards, international in character, recognize the work of people and institutions who strive every day to improve people’s lives in areas related to social commitment, research, health, accident protection and insurance. The award will be presented on 14 June at the Casino de Madrid (Calle Alcalá, 15) by Her Majesty Queen Sofía.