A car mechanic’s idea for a device that delivers babies during obstructed childbirth complications could end up saving women’s and babies’ lives in developing countries, reports the New York Times. The device, attached to the baby’s head, inflates to grip it so the baby can be pulled out. Mechanic Jorge Odón says he came up with the idea after thinking about the process used for extracting a cork that’s fallen into a wine bottle.
Still in the testing phase, it’s been endorsed by the World Health Organization and United States Agency for International Development and licensed by a medical technology company with hopes of profiting. So far, the device has been tested on 30 women who were in normal labor at hospitals. The WHO will oversee tests on hundreds more women in China, India, and South Africa during normal and obstructed labor conditions.
Although doctors are hopeful the device could potentially cut down on cesarean sections in rich countries, the implications are even greater for poor countries, where the only available tools can hurt or kill the baby or mother in untrained hands. Worldwide, 287,000 women died during or after childbirth in 2010 — and 99 percent of those maternal deaths occur in developing countries, where women simply lack the resources that could have prevented those deaths.
There is a huge demand for contraception to prevent unsafe and unplanned pregnancies, but global supply has not kept pace. By 2015, an approximate 233 million women won’t have access to their preferred contraceptive service, with 80 percent living in the developing word. A basic human right, contraception can also prevent the annual 47,000 deaths that result from unsafe abortions around the world.