[SE08-MED]: Technologies for mother and child health

DAY 1 – Wednesday 27 June – 3:30pm-5:00pm

Swiss Tech | Room 1A | Level Garden


Session Leaders


Matthieu Gani

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland



Matthieu is a scientific collaborator at EPFL’s cooperation and Development Center (CODEV). After completing an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering, he worked on cochlear implants at the Geneva University Hospital, developing research interfaces and conducting tests with patients. He was then employed as a social worker and deputy manager at the Soup Kitchen in Lausanne, Switzerland, providing free meals and guidance to people in need. He joined CODEV’s EssentialTech program in 2013 as a project manager, first on newborn health and now in the field of protective equipment.”at developing technologies and business models to fight poverty.


Beat Stoll,

University of Geneva, Switzerland



Beat Stoll studied medicine in Basel and Lausanne (MD, FMH in internal medicine). He then did a diploma in Health Care and Management in Tropical Countries at the Swiss Tropical Institute and a 3 years stay in rural Cameroon.

He is affiliated as a staff member of the MAS of Public Health of the University in Geneva. He contributed at the medical faculty of Yaounde (Cameroon) to the establishment of a teaching unit in community health. Other research is related to medical communication in rural Mali (together with NFSD), to mental health service implementation for teenage mothers in Cameroon and to the development of appropriate medical devices.



Many important medical devices, which are essential to primary healthcare, are still not available in much of the developing world. Even those technologies, which are well proven in industrialized countries, often fail to deliver their essential function, when they are deployed in low and middle-income countries.The important difference between these contexts and needs calls for innovative approaches in both the technologies themselves and in the way they are deployed (business models). Many medical devices are important for healthcare; this session will focus especially on those technologies, which can have a major impact on mother and child health. Innovations that were (or are in process to be) successfully transferred, deployed and scaled-up are of particular interest.

Panelists and Abstracts


SurgiBox: An Innovation to Improve Childbirth Safety for Mothers through Safe Surgery

Suzanne Francina Maria van Wijck1,2, Sashidhar Jonnalagedda2,3, Debbie Lin Teodorescu2,4

1Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States

2SurgiBox Incorporation, Boston, United States

3Program EssentialTech, Cooperation & Development Center, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland

4Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States


Presenting author’s email address: sash@surgibox.org


Biography of Presenting Author: Sashi is currently leading the business development of SurgiBox Inc. He is also a research affiliate at the Distributed Electrical Systems and Program Essential Tech at EPFL designing microgrids for off-grid hospitals in developing countries.



Surgery is a critical for reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. Although having been a top priority of the global health agenda for decades, there is still a major burden of preventable obstetric complications in low- and middle income countries. In these settings, surgical care is difficult to access and often complicated by infections. Simultaneously, providers of surgical care face disproportionate risks of being infected by patient bodily fluids. SurgiBox is an ultraportable inflatable surgical environment. It is designed for surgical and obstetric/gynaecological teams operating without access to standard surgical facilities and facilitates safe surgery – for both patients and providers – anywhere in the world. We describe existing benchtop validation data and human factors testing for our latest generation system and present different elements of the social business model canvas to ensure large impact and sustainable development.


Gastrointestinal Drug Delivery Device for Tuberculosis Treatment of Mothers

Malvika Verma1, Giovanni Traverso1,2, Robert Langer1
1 Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2 Department of Chemical Engineering and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

3 Division of Gastroenterology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

4 Harvard—MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Presenting author’s email address: mverma@mit.edu

Biography of Presenting Author: Malvika Verma earned her B.S. in Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. She is now pursuing a PhD in Biological Engineering under Professor Robert Langer at MIT focusing on developing gastrointestinal devices for drug delivery applications. Malvika is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Tata Fellow. As part of her fellowship, she travels twice per year to India to carry out fieldwork for her project in large government hospitals to interact with patients and doctors.


Tuberculosis (TB), which claims the lives of over 3,500 people every day, is the world’s leading killer amongst infectious diseases. Despite highly effective regimens for prevention and treatment of TB among adults, poor patient adherence remains a significant barrier to eradicating the disease. Poor adherence is commonly due to a treatment interruption, which increases morbidity and mortality as well as the potential for developing drug-resistant TB strains. Many TB patients, especially young women who are mothers, face stigma-related issues with TB treatment, which leads to poor treatment outcomes for them. To improve adherence for mothers, we propose technologies for large-dose controlled release delivery systems centered in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that can provide one month’s worth of TB treatment so that patients are much more likely to adhere to the TB treatment regimen and eradicate the disease efficiently.


Large-scale deployment of decision-support digital tools to improve quality of child healthcare in resource-constrained settings: The IeDA program in Burkina Faso


Authors: Amara Amara, Guillaume Foutry , Thierry Agagliate, Enric Jané, Balwant Godara

Fondation Terre des Hommes, Lausanne, Switzerland]


Presenting author’s email address: amara.amara@tdh.ch


Biography of Presenting Author: Prof. Amara AMARA obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1989 and Master degree in microelectronics from Paris VI University. He joined ISEP (Paris Institute for Electronics) where he established the LISITE laboratory composed of more than 40 researchers in the fields of micro and nano electronics, image and signal processing and big data processing and analysis. He joined in June 2017 “Terre des hommes” an international NGO specialized in child protection where he is in charge of ICT for Development.



This work presents the implementation, institutionalization and impact of an innovative approach to child health – the use of mobile technologies to help deliver a clinical protocol for the management of childhood illnesses. The project takes an integrated approach: besides the digital job aid to guide professionals through consultations, it includes components for capacity-building, coaching and supervision of health workers. Rigorous evaluations through the course of the project are showing significant improvements in the quality of primary care. It is currently implemented at scale in Burkina Faso, with high potential for application in other contexts..

Saving Newborn Lives at Birth through Machine Learning

Rachel Guimbatan-Fadgyas1

Charles C Onu1, Innocent Udeogu1, Eyenimi Ndiomu1, Peace Opara2, Edward A. D. Alikor2, Doina Precup3, Guilherme Sant’Anna4

1 Ubenwa Intelligence Solutions Inc

2 University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Nigeria

3 School of Computer Science, McGill University, Canada

4 Division of Neonatology, McGill University Health Centre, Canada


Presenting author’s email address: onucharles@gmail.com


Biography of Presenting Author: Charles is the founder of Ubenwa Intelligence Solutions, a social venture applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems within healthcare. He holds a master’s of science degree in computer science from McGill University, Canada. He is co-founder of the Fisher Foundation for Sustainable Development in Africa. Recently, he also co-founded Tech Hub Africa in Nigeria, a co-working space which provides opportunity and resources for youth to acquire technology skills.



Every year, 3 million newborns die within the first month of life. Birth asphyxia and other breathing-related conditions are a leading cause of mortality during the neonatal phase. Current diagnostic methods are too sophisticated in terms of equipment, required expertise, and general logistics. Consequently, early detection of asphyxia in newborns is very difficult in many parts of the world, especially in countries of the Global South. We are developing a machine learning system, dubbed Ubenwa, which enables diagnosis of asphyxia through automated analysis of the infant cry. Deployed via smartphone and wearable technology, Ubenwa will drastically reduce the time, cost and skill required to make accurate and potentially life-saving diagnoses.