Saturday, July 31, 2010

Crowd Sourcing for Maternal Health

The high rate of devastating complications of pregnancy, labor and delivery continues to be a desperate problem, especially in poorer parts of the world. The good folks at Oxford University are trying a new approach to understanding the barriers to better maternal health and perhaps to finding answers: they're asking folks. Which folks? Just about everybody who takes care of expectant mothers in third world settings.  They've set up a web site, Global Voices for Maternal Health, to use crowd-sourcing to get more and better input into this problem. (Even if you're not a third world maternal health provider, you're welcome to participate in the discussions.)

Crowdsourcing is the use of large numbers of distributed workers (usually interacting over the Internet) to solve problems or do tasks that are difficult for smaller teams to do. It has been used in the arts, business (especially marketing), and in science, but hasn't had much application in health that I know of. (Innocentive has applied it to biomedical science, but not to health care delivery.) So, this project is a bit of first.

Will they get the magic bullet answer that has eluded all the experts and policy makers for decades? Probably not. But they might get more than a few really great ideas that can have a positive impact on the lives of millions. It's a clever way to take advantage of new technologies to generate more and better information and certianly worth a try.

1 comment:

  1. A lot of infants die during or post delivery due to midwife malpractice and unsanitary conditions.


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