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Barakat Bundle: A bundle of life-saving solutions to support mothers and newborns in South Asia

Barakat Bundle is a bundle of life-saving solutions to support mothers in South Asia during the first year of their child's life.

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team

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In no more than 3 sentences, please tell us who your idea is designed for and how it reimagines the new life experience.

Barakat Bundle is a life-saving bundle to support mothers and newborns in vulnerable communities in South Asia. We provide packages specifically tailored to their community’s wants and needs that include proven medical items, appropriate health education, and a desirable bamboo cradle for the baby. Barakat means blessing – babies are a blessing to their families, and by providing each child with an equal, healthy start to life - Barakat Bundle is a blessing for their families.

Every year almost 5 million infants die (33% in South Asia) and almost 300 thousand women die (25% in South Asia) from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Through the use of relatively inexpensive and feasible public health interventions (such as thermal care, clean delivery kits, etc.) around the time of birth, more than 80% of these deaths are preventable. However, issues of affordability, access, and education prevent mothers and infants from getting the basic care they deserve.

Barakat Bundle is a curated bundle of life-saving solutions for mothers and newborns in vulnerable communities in South Asia that reduces preventable causes of infant and maternal mortality and morbidity. We package together low-cost evidence-based medical items such as clean delivery kits for safe births with health education in a safety certified bamboo cradle. Our end users are low-income, new mothers in South Asia and our target market are the health NGOs that serve them. The medical items in the bundle specifically target causes of maternal and infant mortality and morbidities in South Asia. The bamboo cradle incentivizes demand for the bundle and encourages utilization. The bamboo cradle is locally sourced, designed with community input, and certified to promote safe sleeping and reduce the likelihood of suffocation. Receipt of Barakat Bundle is conditional on mothers delivering at the local health center to encourage skilled attendance during childbirth. For mothers, Barakat Bundle is affordable (provided for free), accessible (delivered directly to local health clinics), and educational (includes comprehensive health education). For health NGOs, Barakat Bundle is integrated into the existing health system (distribution model uses community health workers and government transportation programs) and cost-effective (compared to existing siloed programs). 


At what stage is your idea?

  • Prototyping: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing my idea.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have used human-centered design to design the bundle by conducting focus groups and interviews with over 100 mothers, fathers, and healthcare workers in rural India. We shared our cradle prototypes, proposed medical items, and health education material to get their feedback based on what they need and want to help them during their child's first year of life. This feedback was used to improve and iterate on the bundle to co-create a curated, need and wants-based bundle.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The OpenIDEO community would be a valuable resource to help us strengthen our idea and mitigate future risks. We have tested our idea in West and South India but would be interested to know about perceptions of its viability in other areas of India and South Asia. Additionally, as we scale across South Asia, we are looking for guidance to efficiently adapt our idea to best meet other community needs and wants with a shorter product development lead time.

Tell us about your work experience:

Our all-female team has over 50 years of medical, public health, and business expertise. We have conducted two years of human-centered design including focus groups, in-depth interviews, and small-scale distribution pilots to develop Barakat Bundle. We are committed to equity, justice, and health.

This idea emerged from...

  • An organization or company

Are you an expecting, new, or experienced mom?

  • yes

Are you a healthcare practitioner?

  • yes

Are you a current employee of UCB Pharmaceuticals or Sutter Health?

  • no

36 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anlan
Team

I like the idea and its potential to rescue mothers and children that face challenges in the early days of new life experience. However, I would like to know how you are going to package the Barakat Bundle in a way that assures you that it will be sustainable and easy to carry out in the long term.

Photo of Pallavi Aga
Team

I am very impressed by the work done by the team which is so much needed in India where even now the maternal and infant mortality rate is quite high. I am sure they must be facing lot of challenges . I would like to know what was their most difficult challenge and how they managed to overcome this. Best of luck to the team for the future

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Hi Pallavi - great question! Our biggest challenge is that our team is based in the US while our work occurs in India. We have overcome this thus far by traveling to India to conduct product development pilots and partnering with amazing organizations in India like the Indian Institute of Public Health who support us on the ground. Going forward, however, we look forward to spending more time on the ground in India and eventually across South Asia!

Photo of Ishaan Amin
Team

What are some challenges you face while working in a region as complex and diverse as India? And what issues do you anticipate as you prepare to scale across the country and, eventually, the geographical region? Additionally, how do you plan on overcoming them?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Great question Ishaan! Your point is very valid - India is an incredibly diverse country with varied languages, religions, cultures, and practices. Thus far we have conducted human centered design exercises with families in the South and the West and found consistent results. That being said, we anticipate making small changes as needed to best meet the needs of the communities we scale to. This includes translating our materials to the local language and updating contents based on local practices. Additionally, a big reason why we provide Barakat Bundles to health centers rather than to mothers directly is so that they can provide health education and training in a culturally appropriate way. We provide each health center with a curriculum of recommended practices that they can then adapt based on their knowledge of the communities they serve.

Photo of Aashna12
Team

Barakat Bundle sounds like a great organisation with a very unique solution an important problem!

I was wondering what Barakat Bundle’s sources of funding were and what new resources (if any) you’ll are hoping to tap into in order to sustain the organisation and mission?

Photo of Jameel Somji
Team

I've followed Barakat Bundle's Journey from the very beginning and I'm so inspired by their mission and excited to see them scale. I'm a big fan and practitioner of human centred design and remember a great finding from their early days of user testing the bundle in the field was that Mother's did not care for disposable diapers. Can you remind me why that was the case?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Awesome point and thanks for your support Jameel! You're right - after we conducted interviews and focus groups with more than 100 mothers, fathers, and healthcare workers in rural India we came away with a lot of insight into what they need and want in terms of support during the first year of their children's lives. While we thought diapers would be a helpful solution to some messy situations, we recognized that disposable diapers may not be the best fit because there were limited disposal options and we didn't want to create additional waste in local communities that could potentially spread harmful bacteria and create health concerns. That being said, we tried reusable cloth nappies, a reusable plastic 'diaper', and even a potty to help contain waste. In all cases, we find that families did not use any of the items. The practices we saw were to hold a baby out of reach during excretion so that any waste fell to the floor and to wipe the baby clean with the edge of the mother's sari. Alternatively, if the baby was laying down in a cradle then nothing was done.

We found that an intermediate solution was to provide a rubber mat for the baby to lay on so that in the event of excretion while laying down, the baby was on a surface that was easy to wipe and easily reused in a clean manner. Families were receptive to this rubber mat and used it regularly.

That being said, we are still open to additional ideas to better understand how we might help families keep their babies clean and dispose of waste in a hygienic matter.

Photo of Jessica Gil
Team

Barakat Bundle is a great idea innovated to tackle a very real and yet preventable health issue. I find its vision, goals and plan feasible, attainable, well thought-out and overall, invaluable. These bundles have the potential to make tangible impacts on the lives of countless mothers, infants and families. I thus see great potential for this initiative and am rooting for its success.

My question based on what I've read is: what type of health education is provided as part of this initiative? What does the education piece look like practically?

Great work Barakat Bundle team!

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thanks so much for your kind words Jessica!

Our health education is provided in the form of a calendar. We designed a calendar because we found that when we distributed standard pamphlets, families put them aside and did not read them. However, most households had at least one calendar on their walls and we thought this would be a good way to ensure 1) families remember where their health education materials are, 2) they interact with them regularly, and 3) it can be shared with the community. We include key health messages on each page that focus on sensory development, immunizations, etc. At the back of the calendar are health education pages with more comprehensive info. Working with families in India, we designed our health education cards to focus on 5 key topics: breastfeeding, thermal care, handwashing, danger signs for mothers, and danger signs for newborns. These are included in the calendar in a place where any culturally uncomfortable information can be hidden but easily accessed.

Finally, families also receive health education through 3 touch points with a community health worker as part of the Barakat Bundle program - one during prenatal care, one after delivery, and one during postnatal care.

Photo of Jessica Smith
Team

Great product! What are your next steps and how can we help?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thanks Jessica! Our next steps are to finalize our packaging, identify an appropriate manufacturer for the cradle and suppliers for the items, and then begin operations! We are looking to be connected with the following: 1) product design engineers/packaging engineers (to help finalize our product and packaging); 2) bamboo manufacturers (to create the hard components of the cradle), 3) cloth goods manufacturers (to create the soft components of the cradle), 4) supply chain experts (for advice), and of course 5) donations on our website to support our operations!

Photo of Tabassum Naushad
Team

This is an innovative idea. How do you address families who may not know how to read or write?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Great question! We have designed all of our written materials to be highly pictorial in nature and specifically designed for low-literacy populations. In addition, we ensure that all health education is accompanied by 3 educational touch points with community health workers to ensure that they receive education orally as well. Finally, we would love to partner with organizations like Armman which provide maternal and child care messages via mobile phone calls at regular times as that would be an additionally beneficial way to ensure low literacy populations receive appropriate education on how to use Barakat Bundle and other safe care practices.

Photo of eromi1
Team

It is evident that a great deal of thoughtful and culturally sensitive research went into selecting items to support the health needs of these newborns. I am interested to know more about any products you intend on including to support and reiterate the importance of maternal self-care, post delivery.

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thanks so much for your feedback! Two key things we include to support maternal self-care post-delivery are sanitary napkins and health information on maternal danger signs which require medical attention - these include physical and mental conditions related to post-partum depression. Additionally, for during delivery we include a sterile blade to cut the umbilical cord to reduce likelihood of infection for mother and baby and a surgical underpad for the mother to deliver on for her comfort and safety.

Photo of Rasal Lia
Team

Thanks for your idea. Does your bundle provide or suggest for any formula foods for the newborns?

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/new-life/feedback/postpartum-care-for-the-babies

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thank you for your question! We do not provide formula as we encourage early and exclusive breastfeeding - which is feasible because the mothers we work with often do not work outside the home. Breastfeeding is common practice in the communities in which we work, it has proven health benefits (particularly with regards to respiratory illnesses and diarrhea - two common preventable causes of illness among low-income South Asian newborns), and thus we want to encourage this healthy practice.

Photo of Jyoti Ramakrishna
Team

There are so many different players working in silos with clean delivery kits and other supplies for mom and baby. Do explain how this Bundle will work in this space and actually have a much needed impact on mother and infant mortality. What makes it better and more user friendly? (I love the bamboo cradle!)

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thanks for your feedback! We plan to work in partnership with many other organizations in this space. For example, ayzh (an IDEO supported organization) makes amazing clean delivery kits and we want to work with them to provide their kits as part of Barakat Bundle. In fact, they have already donated some to a pilot project we ran in Gujarat, India! We would also like to work with organizations like Arman that do mobile health messaging for maternal and child health. By collaborating with other organizations in the maternal and child health space, we can magnify each others' impact and have greater benefit for moms and babies in South Asia.

P.S. Bamboo is environmentally friendly and locally sustainable! It's an awesome feature of our cradle that we are very proud of - glad you like it!

Photo of Hussein Ladhani
Team

Mothers have to deliver the babies at a clinic. What about people who cannot afford to get to a clinic? Are there any options for them?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Great question! Luckily in India, where we are piloting, the government has a program that provides free transportation to mothers to and from the health center for child birth and subsidizes their care. During prenatal care, community health workers can inform mothers of this program so they can take advantage of it and enjoy the benefits of skilled birth attendance during childbirth.

Photo of Melody Jahanzadeh
Team

I really like the requirement to deliver at a clinic, and your incorporation of the feedback you received from local communities.

The effectiveness of any product is very dependent on it being used correctly. How will the recipients of Barakat Bundle be educated on the proper use of the items, and specifically, the medical items? Will any written materials be included to be used as a reference tool?

Also, how will the Bundle be evaluated to assess whether any changes or enhancements are needed in the future?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thanks for your insight Melody! Mothers will receive education at 3 different touch points:
1) During standard prenatal care in their homes - they will be introduced to a sample bundle by a community health worker and taught about each item
2) After childbirth before being released from the hospital - they will receive their own bundle and again receive training on each item by a health worker
3) During standard postnatal visit in their home approx 10 days after birth - they will have the chance to ask any follow up questions now that they have had a chance to use the bundle with their new child

Additionally, each mother will receive a health education calendar that covers topics including breastfeeding, handwashing, thermal care, and mother and child danger signs. This calendar has been specially designed in partnership with local communities for low-literacy populations and is sensitive to local cultural stigmas.

Photo of Rishma
Team

I love the idea of a mother going to a clinic to get skilled attendance at childbirth. If the incentive is the cradle (and the items that come with it), how will you monitor mothers passing down the cradle to other mothers who then may not get skilled attendance at childbirth? These mothers may circumvent the system by getting the cradle from a friend or community member.

In that vain, do you have a succession program for the cradles where the mother can return it and it can be given to others.

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Great question! Some of the items in the Bundle are reusable (such as the cradle itself and some clothes/baby blanket/thermometer etc.) while some are not (such as the sterile blade to cut the umbilical cord, chlorhexidine to clean the umbilical cord stump, umbilical cord clamp, health education calendar etc). So that being said, we are exploring the idea of a "first-time mother" kit for new mothers and a secondary refill kit for mothers who have already received the full Barakat Bundle package with a previous child. Our goal is that mothers who go through the full program the first time will realize the benefits and continue with the positive health seeking behavior (such as seeking skilled attendance during childbirth) that was previously incentivized heavily (with the full package) for their first child and further incentivized lightly (with the refill package) for subsequent children.

Photo of Mith Kaybee
Team

The equity that your curated cradle promotes is honourable and heart warming! What are some of the challenges you have noticed that new mothers encounter? Also, you mentioned in the comments that you plan to sell this cradle in the US. Is there any way a new mother in Canada might also be able to purchase a cradle?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

In low-income households in rural India, new mothers often aren't the decision makers in their households when it comes to pregnancy and childcare. Rather it is often their husband or mother-in-law that makes these decisions. Thus providing mothers with education and teaching them how to use simple medical items empowers them to be able to provide care for both their child and themselves. We also aim to include husbands, mothers-in-law and other family members in the education process so everyone is empowered together.

We would love to sell Barakat Bundle cradles to new mothers in Canada as well! Our cradles are currently undergoing safety testing to meet standards for US, Canada, EU, Australia and New Zealand!

Photo of Rahim Ladhs
Team

I appreciate the process of curating items with input from the beneficiaries, higher likelihood they'll understand the benefits of making use of the bundle and passing the knowledge on to other locals. As well, the requirement to deliver at a health centre is a simple but often overlooked step. You mention in another comment about selling in the US - has any research been done to show consumers are willing to pay for this product and is a funding model in place to finance breaking into the market? Look forward to your feedback.

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thank you for your insightful comments!

We have done small scale market research to get a sense of US mothers' willingness to pay for the Barakat Bundle cradle. Overwhelmingly, mothers wanted to purchase a cradle for their child (either as a primary or secondary sleep space) and their willingness to pay ranged from $100-300. We plan to do larger scale market research once we obtain our design patent to determine our final pricing strategy. However, we have conducted financial models using a price of $150 and at this price we are able to break even after selling just 518 units (approx 0.01% market penetration). This means that after selling 518 units in the US, every additional cradle unit sold allows us to distribute 2 Barakat Bundles in South Asia.

Photo of Iranga Kahangama
Team

It seems that in addition to the mothers and babies, there are lots of additional positive effects possible for the economy, local businesses, health workers, suppliers etc. Could you speak more about your local partners in creating the bundle and what roles they play?

Photo of Barakat Bundle Team
Team

Thank you for your feedback!

Firstly, while developing our product using Human Centered Design we have worked with the Indian Institute of Public Health to set up focus groups and interviews and to connect us with local health NGOs. By getting local families feedback, we ensure the Bundle best meets the needs and wants of these families to support them during their child's first year of life.

Secondly, we have worked exclusively with local Indian designers to develop our cradle and health calendar. This provides economic opportunity and ensures our Bundle best meets local needs. We plan to continue to work with local manufactures to produce the bundle going forward as well.

Thirdly, our plan for operations is to provide Barakat Bundles at a subsidized price to health NGOs so that they can provide them in the most appropriate way to the mothers they serve. We provide them with a recommended education and implementation curriculum and allow them to adapt it to the needs of their community.

Photo of Jessica Wu
Team

I'd like to learn how this initiative can be more sustainable and stand on its own. Otherwise, I fear you will be at the mercy of the funding cycles and politics.

Photo of Karima Ladhani
Team

Thanks for your feedback Jessica! We are committed to having a sustainable financial model. Our model involves selling the bamboo cradle (made in india) to mothers in the US to subsidize distribution of the entire Barakat Bundle package (cradle + medical items + health education) in South Asia. In this way, for every cradle sold in the US we can distribute two bundles in South Asia. This provides economic opportunity to the makers of the cradles and health benefits to the recipients of Barakat Bundles.

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Barakat Bundle Team ,

There are less than 3 hours left to contribute to the Ideas Phase, and I see your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention?

Just a friendly reminder that your post must be published today, (Sunday August 23) by 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time to be eligible for evaluation. At the top of your post you will see a blue "publish" icon. Click this icon to submit to the Challenge.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you in the Challenge!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Barakat!

There are 4 hours left in the ideas phase. I wanted to remind you to publish your idea today (Sunday 23 August) by 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time.