During a field research assignment in rural India, Zubaida Bai stumbled upon an unsettling practice while witnessing a live delivery. She saw midwives using a sickle – a sharp-edged blade used my farmers – to cut the umbilical cord. This was her "aha" moment, she said.
"Every 5 minutes, at least three mothers die during childbirth. One of the biggest reasons behind this is lack of access to basic clean tools at the time of childbirth," said Zubaida, the founder and CEO of ayzh Health.
When Zubaida realized that women in Indian villages are deprived of basic facilities during delivery, she came up with an idea to create an affordable "clean birth kit" for clinics in rural areas, primary health care centers and midwives.
"Reflecting on an infection I suffered after the birth of my first son, I wondered, 'If I had to suffer with an infection at one of the best facilities in India, with the best technology available, what are women in these villages facing?" she recalled.
This led to the birth of "Janma", a $3 birth kit that can be used by healthcare workers to create safe and sterile conditions at the time of childbirth.
Assembled by local women, the kit comes in the form a small jute bag and contains an underpad, a surgical scalpel blade, a cord clamp, a bar of soap, a baby wiping cloth and an instruction sheet.
With local manufacturing and large volumes of monthly product sales, ayzh ensures that cost of the product remains affordable for low-resource settings.
"We invest significantly in the raw materials and human resources required to ensure that our products continually meet the unique needs of women in low-resource settings over time," said Zubaida.
In addition to providing women with access to clean birth kits, ayzh also trains and educates healthcare workers to help them advance the survival, health, and wellbeing of mothers and newborns.
"Our educational ecosystem for reproductive health is designed to translate global standards for health and hygiene into reality by using engaging digital tools and training that support women and girls at the most critical and stigmatised times in their reproductive life," Zubaida said.
She said that since the inception of the company, they have sold over 5,00,000 products to more than 400 health institutions in 20 countries. The company is now developing a B2C model in India for its menstrual hygiene products and is also carrying out analysis on topics like state-wide gaps in sexual and reproductive health for adolescent girls.
But the journey came with its own set of challenges, she said.
"Given we were the only for-profit enterprise in the maternal newborn health space for low-resource settings, we had to act as 'first movers' and 'field builders' to establish a marketplace for such products, which involved investing in relationship-based sales that generated awareness of the importance of and need for our products.
"Other challenges included accessing working and human capital and innovating effective ways to reach the poorest, most fragile, and remote regions of India. Since reaching Read More – Source