One-line solution summary:
Maisha: Improving postpartum depression treatment in Africa through standardized screening practices
Pitch your solution.
According to WHO the global prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) has been estimated as 100‒150 per 1000 births. PPD is a severe disorder that begins within four weeks postpartum and requires hospitalization.
While PPD is a considerable health issue for many women, the disorder often remains undiagnosed and hence untreated. The situation is especially worse in Africa where mental health needs are largely ignored.
Our solution seeks to solve PPD by introducing mental health screening as part of the already established maternal health structure. Using our system mothers get tested and continuously monitored. Those at need get assigned help both at the clinic and at home.
The solution will greatly reduce the child mortality rate, which is especially high in Africa, as mothers who are depressed are more likely not to breastfeed their babies and not seek health care appropriately.
What specific problem are you solving?
Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious mood disorder. PPD is more frequent in women than thought otherwise. In Africa, considering that the average birth rate in Africa is 4.7, PPD affects most if not all mothers and chances of getting it increases with each birth .
Postnatal depression has profound effects on the quality of life, social functioning, and economic productivity of women and their families. The health consequences could also lead to adverse effects on the long-term emotional and physical development of the infant.
Moreover, failure by health professionals to identify postnatal depressed women often leads to safeguarding concerns for both mothers and infants.
What is your solution?
Maisha helps pregnant women, their families and healthcare professionals build partnerships with each other through an intelligent messaging solution that uses machine learning and natural language processing to provide PPD screening and treatment and support.
Maisha rides on the current health structure to provide the service. Using the triage period, patients take SMS test and the result provided to the healthcare professional for analysis. Those that require support are provided the help locally and also virtually.
Maisha enables the few mental health professionals to treat 5 time more patients as compared to the traditional model. Additionally the referral matrix is strengthen empowering those patients to seek local solutions for mild forms of the diseases or for patients that require face to face interactions.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Our solution is targeting pregnant African women and those with infants.
The current set up in most maternal African health care systems is use of a jotter to track progress of the pregnancy and infancy period. The jotter is kept by the patient/mother and is updated by the health professionals. We are using the same model to incorporate mental health checks and status. This will result in psychological status of the mother being in focus.
Women in the urban environment and those with internet prefer use of tools such as apps for the therapy sessions while those in the rural set up and/or with limited resources prefer phone calls and sms. Both groups do not mind use of the SMS for the testing.
Our internal studies have shown that the women find the solution easy to use and actually welcome psycho-social support, recognizing its importance. Wide spread adoption of the solution will encourage better adoption of usage as well as make mental health in general gain valuable support.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?Support the mental and emotional health of women throughout pregnancy and after childbirth
Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.
A women's mental health and well being during pregnancy is as important as their physical health. If a woman is mentally healthy, she will be in the best position to manage the challenges of pregnancy and life with a new baby.
Maisha ensures that maternal mental status is in focus during and after the pregnancy thus enabling faster interventions where needed and that are also cost effective (early detection ensures lower treatment cost).
In addition Maisha will help the broader adoption of mental health treatment in Africa
In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?Nairobi, Kenya
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new business model or process
Describe what makes your solution innovative.
Maisha is innovative as it seeks to address PPD proactively instead of the current reactive measures, where a patient has to develop symptoms to get treated. Additionally the solution is taking a preventative approach to PPD.
Maisha is also unique in that it lowers the cost of treating PPD by over 80%, by targeting and treating patients before they advance in the level of illness. The approach also allows patients to get better in self care and are able to identify problem signals early through the regular training. these results in the community being more aware of mental health and what is required.
Finally, Maisha is able to utilize the few mental health professionals well. currently 90% of them are in the urban areas which poses a challenge to majority of the African population which is rural. the virutal assistance is able to assure the professionals a constant income hence they are able to reduce their charges.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The current Maisha uses machine language and AI to screen and communicate with patients. We are continuously building the solution to add more feature including local language adoption.
However the most useful feature is the noting of mental health results in the book used by the patients in their clinic visits.Of interest is the ability of the service to be able to connect to other systems through API ensuring no hospital system will be left out.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
What is your theory of change?
According to WHOevery dollar put in any mental initiative gives back four dollars in gains. using this approach the impact of Maisha will be;
- saving the patients over 10 million dollars in treatment cost.
- mental health professionals earning over 2 million dollars.
- reducing the rate of child mortality by 20% (theoretical).
- increasing the earning power of mothers by half since PPD introduces downtime during recovery.
Maisha is a simple total that has been designed to be easily adopted across all ranges of clinics and health facilities with little disruptions.
Select the key characteristics of your target population.
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
In which countries do you currently operate?
In which countries will you be operating within the next year?
How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?
For the pilot phase we have screened over 10,000 patients with over 100 advancing in the level of care.
We are still in the pilot phase and estimate to be able to serve 100,000 patients within an year and five million after adoption of local language in the solution.
our estimation is over 10,000 mothers will be treated for some form of PPD within a year and 50,000 after the first year due to increased awareness and adoption of local language.
we estimate we will save the patients over 10 million dollars in treatment cost while earning the mental health professionals over 2 million dollars.
What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?
We plan to be in over 100,000 hospitals and clinics within 5 years interacting with 3 million patients on a daily basis.
We plan to increase the current level of treatment for mental health related illness from under 10% to 40%.
What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?
Stigma is a big factor in the implementation of a mental health solution in Africa followed by lack of resources especially manpower.
Many local languages also make it difficult to implement AI solutions due to the training time required for each language.
Logistical cost are also high as most rural areas are expansive with sparse population.
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
Using constant training and education will reduce the stigma while use
of technology will increase the efficiency of the current practitioners.
We use the funnel approach that will enable us target languages spoken by more people across the continent.
Using technology and trade associations will enable us reach some remote areas faster and cheaper.
What type of organization is your solution team?For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
If you selected Other, please explain here.
Maisha is part of Thalia psychotherapy. Thalia is using Maisha as an initiative to broaden the reach of mental health service in Africa and reduce stigma associated with mental health.
How many people work on your solution team?
5 full time
5 part time
How many years have you worked on your solution?
Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
Ruth Mwaura (CEO) Kenyan
She a co founder and CEO. She holds a master in clinical psychology and is passionate about mental health especially in children. Ruth has over 7 years experience in mental health and running complex teams. She is also good at mobilizing and has a great networks in the African mental health space.
Martha Kagoya (COO) Ugandan
She holds a master in clinical psychology. She runs the day to day activities including teams and resources. She has over 15 years in leadership and has strong research skills.
Dennis Mwangi (chairman) Kenyan
He co founded Thalia with Ruth. He has a strong technical background and drives the IT agenda. He has over 15 years of leadership both in business and social work.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
Nairobi City county
Kenya healthcare federation
Kenya psychiatric association
What is your business model?
we will serve patients though revenue share partnerships with hospitals and other stakeholders
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your path to financial sustainability?
we estimate will it take 100,000 screening tests and 10,000 treatments to make Maisha break even. This can be achieved after getting over 20 hospitals.
Why are you applying to Solve?
Solve will provide Maisha the platform to scale easily since many healthcare solution are working in our target area. Additional the sharing of knowledge and being in the company of like minds will help take the solution to the next level.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
choosing the right talent has become a major issue in running Maisha since its in an area facing stigma in the target groups.
We feel having a baord will help the solution better navigate the business environment which is tough and help in any fund raising efforts as well as open a few doors.
What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?
African government provide the best partners to the solution as many healthcare facilities are government run in Africa
NGO's such as the World Bank and UN will help the adoption of the solution though their expertise and networks in Africa.