Elena Bonfiglioli is Senior Director Health Industry, EMEA @ Microsoft, and one of our respected Luminaries for Safe Motherhood Week. We sat down with her on International Women’s Day to ask her how she believes technology can enable improved access to healthcare for pregnant women and mothers, and how we can empower maternal health by embracing preventive care virtually.
Baby steps lead to big changes! What is the #onething you think should happen this year in a bid to achieve universal access to maternal care for all women?
Make virtual health and telemedicine available to all women. Nothing difficult, just a matter of making it happen at scale and listing it as a priority across all health strategies of all countries, from Botswana to Seattle, Helsinki or Portugal. It is a baby step leading to big improvements in maternal care for women and children alike as if everyone if busy in today’s world, women are busier as they manage professional and family tasks effectively.
Often women put their own health lower in their list of priorities, maybe because they need to care for their children or simply work to sustain the family and cannot take time off or travel to do their check-up. Technology is available today to assist them and provide teleconsultations and check-ups virtually, from anywhere at all times even where medical expertise is scares like in Africa.
Virtual health and teleconsultation have just got easier with Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates that provide new functionality to connect people and providers through voice, video and messaging in any interface or application, powered by Skype for Business. The open source templates make it easy for industry partners, developers and enterprises to build solutions to provide care wherever patients may be and there is a large network of partners that can help make it a reality across the globe. Let’s do #onething and empower maternal health by embracing preventive care virtually.
What is the #onething you think has happened in the past year that makes you hopeful for women’s and maternal rights?
More awareness on the role of technology to scale access to maternal health is the #onething that is making the difference. Despite moving too slowly compared to the huge need and gap in maternal health and maternal rights, we see sparkles of light igniting more change. Similarly to how one candle lights up another one, the work of organizations like The Synergist make the difference. The work of partners like ProLogica leveraging systems of intelligence to improve outcomes across 400 neonatologists from 52 Portuguese UCIN’s (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) let to better prediction and prevention for Very Low Weight Newborns and the impact of premature babies and newborn morbidity and mortality. This work supports Microsoft and Prologica’s commitment to support the Sustainable Development Goals and the targets on SDG 3 around maternal health make me feel positive that we can shed light starting with one candle at the time.
What #onething would you say to someone who asks why we need to fight for maternal rights in 2017?
Maternal rights and maternal health are the foundation of a healthy society and therefore a more prosperous society. If we care for the health of mother and child we ensure a higher likelihood of access to education, access to jobs and entrepreneurship for women and also safety and sustainability of family support. Let me share #onething which may be a forgotten tenet of human history: if children are the future, maternal health is the conduit to a healthier future for mankind.