Death from pregnancy or childbirth is something that we rarely think about in the United States because most women have better access to healthcare. For developing countries, however, childbirth and pregnancy-related death rates are still relatively high. For example, in Bangladesh, 176 deaths occur for every 100,000 births, and in Sierra Leone, nearly 1,360 deaths occur for every 100,000 births.
A tech company based in Bangladesh, Grameen Intel Social Business Limited, has created a smart bangle to help pregnant women who live in developing countries. Kazi Huque, Grameen Intel’s CEO told The Daily Star, “[The company] has developed a state-of-the-art smart bangle, especially designed for pregnant women, that can play a revolutionary role in improving maternal health. This is an innovative and absolutely new concept not only in Bangladesh but also in the rest of the world.”
The bangle, dubbed COEL (Carbon Monoxide Exposure Limited) acts as a smart wristband that will blend in as a piece of jewelry that any woman could wear. According to their website, “COEL is a smart wearable bangle that provides pre-recorded messages for maternal health. As an additional feature, it can also alert the presence and level of indoor air pollution (particularly carbon monoxide) during daily activities, like cooking, which often involves burning wood, charcoal, or animal dung. Dangerous levels of toxic fumes can be extremely harmful for both the mother and the child.”
The wristband works alone and does not need to be connected to a phone. Grameen Intel believed that the bangle needed to work independently of a smartphone because women in developing countries rarely have access to cell phones.
According to the 2015-2016 National Family Health Survey (NFHS), “less than 46 percent of women own and use a mobile phone.” Pavel Hoq explained to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “We realized a wearable device solely for women, something she would likely wear all the time, would be better to connect with women in rural areas.”
While the bracelet is revolutionary and a great start, the company does have some kinks to work out. For instance, the bangle isn’t cheap and can cost anywhere from $12 to $15. Matthew Bunyi, from the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in South Asia, explained to Quartz India that the average farmer only makes about $3.75 a day. He said, “Many farmers often go through periods without any work. The price point for the COEL appears to be high relative to how much they earn.”
Bunyi also explained that these women might not have easy access to clinics or doctors, so telling them to simply see a doctor might not be so easy. He said, “There could be problems of access; clinics or midwives are simply too far. Other dynamics like distrust of government could deter people from going to clinics.”
For now, the device could give women some great advice about pregnancy and could make a huge difference in the number of deaths we see due to pregnancy and childbirth.
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