First and Last Name: Cindy Urbanc
My idea is to give used cell phones to traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in South Sudan enabling them to: 1) gain access to current training and continuing education in order to improve the care they provide 2) provide a means to communicate in order to call for help when a woman under their care needs emergency transport to a local hospital 3) allow them to register births and deaths so the nation can collect critical demographic data. South Sudan has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and 90% of women there give birth at home with a TBA. There is limited access for women to reach the lifesaving skills provided in hospitals so this project will bring high quality care to them at home. It will do this by empowering the TBAs that they already trust and respect.
As a midwife I have witnessed the profound loss that is associated with a woman dying while attempting to bring life into the world. I have lived the realities of working as a midwife in low resource settings and understand the emotional and physical stress of doing that work while isolated. These experiences made me realize how communication and access to training are critical for traditional birth attendants. Also, I wish for all women to experience the joy of motherhood as I have; my four children are an endless source of inspiration.
This social enterprise is based on the values I am loyal to. Namely, that knowledge, equality and empowerment should be universal. Having thousands of maternal deaths take place daily among vulnerable populations is unacceptable since we have the ability to prevent them as evidenced by the fact that virtually none occur in the developed world. Solutions should be made easily accessible and without cost. Cell phones are the perfect medium with which to do this and TBAs are already an integral part of the communities. The thing I am most proud of is that this idea has the potential to give the South Sudanese people a way to accomplish great things with our support but on their own terms.
Cross marketing with local cell phone companies (Zain, Vivacell, Gemtel) will exchange in country advertising for free cell minutes for the TBAs. Usage training will be done using a “train-the-trainer” model where TBAs are incentivized to teach each other how to use the program. Learning materials will be open source so if a TBA was not recruited by us but has her own phone, she can access it and participate in data collection. Operating costs will include the salary for a country coordinator and import costs for donated phones. These costs will be covered by creating an interactive “sponsor a TBA” program marketed primarily to American midwives via the website.
Success for this project (lower mortality) will be fairly easy to quantify for each of the three main goals because we can: 1) test TBAs knowledge levels to show they are improving over time with SMS “quizzes” 2) compare the accuracy of data collection with that prior to initiation of the project and follow reducing death rates 3) track referrals at local hospitals and compare regional mortality data to show evidence of reductions as the result of this program 4) assess TBA and community satisfaction with the program with “town hall” style meetings. All of this would be systematically and routinely reported to the Ministry of Health of South Sudan, the TBAs and project funders.
I am known in development circles for making every dollar stretch! This grant would make the difference between creating a small pilot project and a long-term multiple site program by funding me to: 1) Provide a microloan to TBAs to set up a solar-powered cell phone charging business in their communities, thereby troubleshooting TBA charging problems, creating income for her and a way for the larger community to have cell phone usability 2) Create a website and social media campaign to collect used cell phones and for fundraising and networking to expand the program in the future 3) Transportation and import of used cell phones 4) Hire an indigenous South Sudanese project manager
Monday, April 22
Friday, May 17
at 12:00 PM PDT
Friday, May 31
Friday, June 14
at 12:00 PM PDT
Tuesday, July 02