Africa-Press – Rwanda. Her story is that of a young girl who grew up with a passion to save lives and serve her community. Marie Chantal Umunyana, a medical student and tech innovator was convinced her calling was in science and she hence chose to walk in that path.
“I knew there was no better choice but to follow a science path at all costs,” she says.
As a final year student, Umunyana is proud to be the brains behind an innovative start-up, Umubyeyi Elevate, a digital health platform that avails information on maternal health, child health, and parenting which is all accessible to the public, thanks to the use of technology tools that allows for community engagement.
Her team ensures to walk the prenatal-postnatal and the parenting journey with parents by providing them with all of the essential information to ensure they stay healthy and informed.
“We believe in a world where no woman should suffer or experience life threatening situations because of lack of knowledge and social support. As a community and health start-up, that’s why we focus on maternal health education and provide social support for women,” she says.
Becoming a solution
Last month, Umunyana was among the selected 19 start-up founders in Rwanda to participate in a start-up accelerator program on innovation business ecosystem by MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation.
She was among the 22 young Rwandan entrepreneurs in agritech, fintech, and Edtech among others who were selected, for a training that equipped them with skills necessary to run their enterprises. Participants also received a certificate of completion.
The young entrepreneur says at the moment, her platform mainly deals with community engagement for example via social media and web app. She however anticipates having events in the near future focusing on creating safe spaces where mothers and young parents gather and share their thoughts, ideas and motivation but also, learn and acquire skills related to maternal health.
Making case for maternal health
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 94 percent of all maternal deaths occur in low and lower middle-income countries. Young adolescents (ages 10-14) face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than other women.
These are some of the challenges present. Umunyana says they strive to bring these numbers down, especially in Rwanda by trying to tackle the problem of maternal mortality and mobility related issues, that she believes is mainly due to lack of knowledge and skills.
She plans to have a community maternal centre and mobile app with all information related to maternal health.
“This is a preventable problem, skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and new-borns. By coming in and providing knowledge, skills and education to the community, we believe it is one way of providing a safe space as well as preventing the risks of having pregnancy related issues and childbirth,” she says.
Moving forward, her future aspiration is to have a community maternal centre and mobile app with all information related to maternal health, for easier accessibility.
Umunyana is also expected to participate in media training for The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award, organised by Women Innovators Incubator. The beneficiaries will receive mentorship programs and financial support.