Health Technologies for Women and Children

Maternal health technology assessment project

Identifying promising innovations with the potential to save lives

Women in the world’s poorest countries still lack access to basic maternal health technologies and services. More than 30 women die each hour from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While many maternal health innovations have been designed for use in low-resource settings, they are not widely available for varied reasons:

A pregnant woman in Nigeria smiling.

Photo: PATH/Evelyn Hockstein.

  • Information gaps on which innovations have the greatest potential to save lives.
  • Challenges related to reliable supply chain and distribution systems, which limit access.
  • Disparate markets and small sales volumes that drive up manufacturing and distribution costs.
  • User requirements that are often too complicated for health care workers who lack sufficient training.

Technology assessments

PATH assessed nearly 40 technologies in development and identified those with the greatest potential to save women’s lives. PATH evaluated technologies to prevent, diagnose, and treat leading causes of maternal death—postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia/eclampsia—and for family planning. The assessment findings provide critical insights on individual maternal health innovations and the current landscape of innovations.

The assessment

PATH conducted a comprehensive literature review and found no existing assessment tools that would adequately meet our project’s needs, so our team developed an Excel-based strategic prioritization tool that relies largely on information that can be collected quickly from secondary data sources. The team consulted with maternal health experts, commercial firms, and other sources to develop a method that captures the potential impact of technologies based on a diverse set of factors.

In addition, PATH used the Maternal and Neonatal Directed Assessment of Technology (MANDATE) model developed by Research Triangle Institute to assess the potential number of lives saved for each technology. For more information, see

The strategic prioritization tool

This new tool provides a systematic approach to assess investment opportunities for novel technologies to reduce maternal mortality. The strategic prioritization tool consists of 22 criteria, each representing a discrete element of the technology’s value proposition and the overall potential for impact. For each technology assessed, the tool produces a numerical score. Technologies that score well using this methodology have a strong value proposition and substantial potential for impact. With further investigation and additional investment, the promise of these technologies  to significantly reduce maternal mortality could be realized.

Assessment presentation

Below is the presentation from the webinar, Maternal Health Innovations: Advancing Lifesaving Technologies to Reduce Maternal Mortality, which PATH and Merck hosted on April 10, 2013. The webinar focused on the importance of advancing innovations with the greatest potential to save women’s lives during pregnancy and childbirth. PATH shared the methodology for their year-long assessment to identify health technologies that will have a sustainable impact on reducing maternal mortality.

Maternal Health Innovations: Advancing Lifesaving Technologies to Reduce Maternal Mortality (4 MB PDF). Compressed, low-resolution version (2 MB PDF).

Assessment article

PATH’s article, Prioritizing investments in innovations to protect women from the leading causes of maternal death, describes the systematic assessment methodology used to identify five technologies with high potential for impact and provides a basis for prioritizing investments. The activities discussed in this publication were supported by funding from Merck through its Merck for Mothers initiative.

Herrick TM, Harner-Jay CM, Levisay AM, Coffey PS, Free MJ, LaBarre PD. Prioritizing investments in innovations to protect women from the leading causes of maternal death. BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth. 2014, 14:10 doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-14-10. Available at BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth.


Funding for this technology assessment was provided by Merck.