Mumspring: Nigerian Startup Tackles Maternal Health Care

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PORTLAND, Oregon — Quality health care in Nigeria is hard to come by, as it often exists in an underfunded and strained condition in parts of the nation. Even with doctors working their hardest, a simple lack of resources can severely constrain care. Recognizing this, entrepreneur and businesswoman Abisola Oladapo created Mumspring, an organization dedicated to increasing adequate health care for women and children, especially prenatal care.

Health Care and Maternal Struggles

Throughout Africa, limited access to health care for women directly correlates with high maternal deaths. The Journal of Global Health Reports states, “The lifetime risk of a Nigerian woman dying during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum or post-abortion is 1 in 22, in contrast to the lifetime risk in developed countries estimated at 1 in 4900.”

Similarly, according to Global Citizen, “Nigeria is home to 20% of all maternal deaths in the world.” The organization highlights some of the biggest factors playing into these statistics. Of note is insufficient budgeting for health care resources, as well as a lack of knowledge about the health care system. This holds particularly true in rural settings, where health care resources and skilled professionals are vastly spread out.

In situations like these, expecting Nigerian mothers may feel nervous and unsure about how to go about their pregnancy. The risk of losing a newborn or possibly dying in the process of delivery can be frightening. Mumspring carries out its efforts in recognition of this. A Mumspring spokesperson spoke with The Borgen Project, saying, “[I]n order to create scalable solutions to transform the future of health, we needed to tackle the issues surrounding maternal health.”

Mumspring Acts on the Ground and Beyond

Since its founding, Mumspring has dedicated itself to lowering the live birth mortality rate for both mothers and newborns. Oladapo originally opened Mumspring as a store for mothers to receive in-person support. In time, the businesswoman expanded her approach, moving away from a singular physical location.

“I realised that I can help more moms at scale by focusing on our app,” said Oladapo. The Mumspring app, which was initially developed in 2018, guides soon-to-be mothers through the path of pregnancy by anticipating care needs, providing information and streamlining access to baby products. Furthermore, Mumspring employs an artificial intelligence tool to supply patients with quality information. This is in order to educate future mothers on the health care process and pregnancy overall. Since challenges and problems vary between African communities and countries, AI app technology helps adapt to the many problems that can come up.

One serious risk during delivery for both mother and infant is infection. Because of this, Mumspring also created The Genesis Project in 2018. The Genesis Project works to combat and prevent infections during pregnancy and delivery. The Project provided 150 “safe birth kits” in its inaugural year.  

Hope and Challenges for the Path Forward

All start-up companies face challenges. “One of the biggest challenges of course is getting sustainable funding and by extension attracting good talent with limited funding available. But we’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve so far despite the odds,” said the spokesperson. At the same time, the spokesperson highlighted what makes overcoming these barriers worthwhile. Mumspring has increased the rate of “in-clinic” births to 80% in certain communities, compared with the 40% national average. The organization has done this while striving to ensure fewer maternal and neonatal deaths.

Mumspring continues to work toward better health care access, understanding and prenatal care in Nigeria and other African nations. Every day, it seeks to make health care more accessible for its clients. Moreover, Mumspring continues to search for new technological advancements to add even more capabilities to its business.

Riley Prillwitz
Photo: Unsplash

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