Date Published: 7 June 2010
Oxford University looks to wisdom of the crowd for ways to reduce maternal deaths worldwide
A new online project being launched today by the University of Oxford will enlist the expertise of 10,000 midwives, nurses and doctors across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East to identify ways of preventing unnecessary maternal deaths.
'Global Voices for Maternal Health' at www.globalvoices.org.uk is the first international project to make use of crowd-sourcing technology in the public health sector on such a scale.
Dr Stephen Kennedy, who is jointly leading the project at the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Oxford, said:
" The project will give new weight and force to the views of people who are actually delivering medical care, especially in developing countries. It will provide them, for the first time, with a powerful voice to set out exactly what needs to be done in their locale to reduce the number of maternal deaths and influence change on a global scale."
" Global Voices for Maternal Health will put healthcare professionals centre-stage, harnessing their combined experience and insight to kick-start a revolution in the provision of evidence-based maternal healthcare where it is most needed,' he added.
The Oxford team, with the support of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), aims to ask 10,000 healthcare professionals ('the crowd') to complete an online survey about their local maternity services and the difficulties they face. The results will provide the first global picture of maternal healthcare services and the extent to which evidence-based interventions are being adopted.
A crowd-sourcing discussion forum will allow those delivering the services to drive the search for solutions to all the preventable maternal deaths that occur every year around the world.
Dr Kennedy explained:
' We hope to see a host of inventive and promising solutions put forward. The best ideas will be determined by the crowd, with prizes awarded for the best contributions.'
The UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 is acknowledged to be the area of least progress amongst all the MDGs, as there are still between 340,000 and 500,000 maternal deaths annually worldwide, according to the latest estimates.
Results of the survey of maternity healthcare provision and crowd-sourcing discussion forum will be made available online shortly after they come to a close on 10 October 2010.
The project is supported by the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth.
Source: Oxford University. .