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Innovative technology and design partner Cambridge Design Partnership today announced that it has been selected as a finalist in the 2015 Saving Lives at Birth: Grand Challenge for Development competition. An international initiative, it awards funding to ground-breaking prevention and treatment approaches for pregnant women and newborn babies in low resource, hard-to-reach communities.

Cambridge Design Partnership has developed a new Uterine Balloon Tamponade (UBT), which can help address severe bleeding within 24 hours of childbirth, with specific design features making it suitable for use in low resource settings. The team has used its expertise in human-centred design and innovative engineering to develop a solution that would be effective, affordable and readily available in these regions, and intuitive to use even in the hands of less experienced users.

Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide, accounting for approximately 130,000 deaths each year, nearly all of which occur in developing regions. In these settings, access to quality care is typically poor, and a lack of electricity, clean water, adequate transportation and trained health professionals can also prevent life-saving care at the time of birth.

Most cases of severe PPH can be managed through the use of uterotonic drugs but these are not reliably available in low resource settings. The World Health Organization has updated its recommendations to include UBTs as an intervention for the management of this condition – however, commercially available UBTs are expensive and not appropriate for deployment in these locations.  Alternately, condom catheters have been successfully deployed in small trials and are low cost ($5) – but still require careful assembly at point of use, needing significant training and skill to be successful.

Cambridge Design Partnership’s solution bridges the gap between these other devices. It includes novel design features and on-the-ground training strategies that – if Saving Lives at Birth funding were successfully awarded - would be tested by birth assistants, allowing qualitative and quantitative evidence to be generated, for the safe, effective and cost-efficient deployment of the Cambridge Design Partnership UBT in the exact settings where it is needed most.

The Saving Lives at Birth: Grand Challenge for Development is a joint initiative by USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the Government of Norway and the UK Government’s Department for International Development. The last stage of the competition will see finalists gathering this week at a Development XChange in Washington DC, to compete in the final stage of review.

For more information about Saving Lives at Birth, go to

You can vote for Cambridge Design Partnership’s innovative design here:

Image credits: Alangignoux / Hel080808 -

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