Worldwide, feminine health and hygiene issues have always been on the backburner. In India, cultural, economic, and environmental factors complicate feminine hygiene issues even more. Several critical social indicators are directly tied to feminine health including education, mental and physical health and overall female empowerment – focus and improvement of female health and hygiene can have far-reaching effects on social indices.
The digital health revolution and the culture of innovation entrepreneurship has slowly but steadily helped identify the most pressing needs in the female hygiene sector. The immediate priority areas are prenatal and post-natal mother and child health monitoring, and hence most current innovations naturally focus on this. Another big focus area is education of school-going girls regarding menstruation and breaking related taboos.
Discussions about innovation are incomplete without the mention of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social entrepreneur from Coimbatore, India. He is the inventor of a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine and is credited for innovating grassroots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India. His mini-machines, which can manufacture sanitary pads for less than a third of the cost of commercial pads, have been installed in 23 of the 29 states of India.
The following is a snapshot of the apps and innovations geared towards female health in India –
General and menstrual health
1. Maya (launched by Bengaluru-based startup Plackal Tech, now acquired by SHEROES) tracks the menstrual cycle to help track related symptoms, mood swings, and overall health.
2. PeeBuddy is an easy-to-carry, disposable tunnel-shaped paper urination device that ergonomically fits between the legs to enable women to stand and urinate, thus avoiding any contact with dirty common toilet seats. Peecare hosts other products for womencare as well.
3. Celes Care is India’s first Online Health Clinic for Women, offering consultation services on Pregnancy Care, Nutrition, Wellness and General Health.
4. DocNMe is an location-agnostic app in which the doctor can type the patient’s name, and get information to effectively advise the patient. The app also allows the patient to port the data to another provider. The app is also a diary and a guide for pregnant women. It contains content and connects the patient directly with the doctor.
5. PregBuddy provides personalised care to women, via health experts and doctors, from the preconception stage to the early years of motherhood. Its AI-enabled platform provides a continuum of care between expectant mothers and doctors.
6. Matra Technologies is a mobile based AI driven technology that helps reduce pregnancy risks.
7. TogetherForHer is an online community that provides quality reviews and guidance, helping women make confident decisions about their choice of a maternity hospital/
8. Savemom is an IOT based maternal healthcare solution to address poor maternal healthcare in India’s remote areas. This is a mobile app used by ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist, a community of social health workers in India) workers to track pregnant women and enter health details: the kit contains a body fat scale kit, a blood glucose monitor, BP monitor, pulse oximeter, and fetal monitor, the data from which feed automatically into the savemom app for the doctor and healthcare worker.
For a safer childbirth
9. Janitri Innovations also attends to mother and foetus/child care. Its product Keyar is a non-invasive cardiotocography (CTG) device to monitor the heart rate of a baby in the mother’s womb, as well as the uterine contractions of the mother-to-be.
10. Maatritva, a mobile health platform for midwives to record medical information of women with high-risk pregnancies, aims to prevent complications for expectant mothers. Women with high-risk pregnancies are referred to a high-level medical officer.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Matra Technologies is a wearable technology for pregnancy monitoring.