Friday, November 4, 2011

Life-saving potential

$3 million gift supports Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Technology Initiative

Technology Initiative will support the
development and testing of innovative
devices like a neonatal resuscitator, shown
here being evaluated by a team -
including Olson, far right - in Aceh, Indonesia.

DESPITE GREAT STRIDES IN GLOBAL HEALTH, maternal and child mortality rates in poor regions of the world remain alarmingly high. Many of these deaths are preventable with simple, innovative medical technologies and devices.

A $3 million gift from the Bacca Foundation to support the newly established MGH Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (MNCH) Technology Initiative will enable the development and testing of such life-saving devices. The Bacca Foundation is founded and funded by Brett Berry and his wife, Winston. Brett Berry is vice chairman of the board of directors of Fresh Markets, a chain of specialty grocery stores started by his father in 1982.

The MNCH Technology Initiative, part of the MGH Center for Global Health, is led by a multidisciplinary team of MGH experts: David Bangsberg, MD, MPH, director of the Center for Global Health; Jessica Haberer, MD, MS, of the Infectious Disease Unit; Pat Hibberd, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Global Health for MassGeneral Hospital for Children; Blair Wylie, MD, MPH, of the Vincent Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology; and Kristian Olson, MD, MPH, DTM&H, of the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics and Center for the Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) Global Health Initiative. The MNCH Technology Initiative will, in part, build upon the success of the CIMIT Global Health Initiative, which has received international acclaim under Olson’s direction for creating and promoting life-saving technologies, including a neonatal incubator made from car parts and a hand-held neonatal resuscitator made from a plastic tube with a small mask fitted to one end.

“We are incredibly thankful for the generosity and vision of the Berry family and the Bacca Foundation,” says Bangsberg. “Their gift is supporting work that has the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of mothers and children around the world.”

In the coming months, clinicians will begin trials of several novel medical devices in Uganda, India and Ethiopia in collaboration with scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – one of many international partners. These devices will better connect women and children in remote rural settings with life-saving interventions, offer decision support to identify who needs treatment first and provide new modes of treatment.

Read more articles from the 11/04/11 Hotline issue.


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