March 22, 2022

Innovator Spotlight Series 2022: Jacaranda Health

Empowering mums and babies across Kenya and beyond.

The Maternal Mortality Rate is 462 per 100,000 live births in low-income countries versus 11 in high income countries, according to the World Health Organization. This massive difference in the number of maternal deaths between the rich and poor reflects the inequity in access to quality health services. Jacaranda Health envisions a world where all mothers experience childbirth safely and with respect, and all newborns get a safe start in life. 

Jacaranda Health started its journey as a social enterprise called, “Jacaranda Maternity” in 2011, focusing on direct service delivery to provide high quality and low-cost care to mothers in parts of Nairobi, Kenya. In 2016, Jacaranda Maternity began building tech-enabled solutions for hospitals that were scalable within bigger health institutions to drive sustained impact. This led to the formation of Jacaranda Health, a nonprofit. Jacaranda Health planned to partner with national and county governments to provide solutions to public hospitals where eighty percent of Kenyan women delivered their babies. Since 2016, Jacaranda Health has grown from three facilities in a single county to over a thousand facilities in twenty Kenyan counties, reaching one million mums to date. In our latest Innovator Spotlight interview, we sat down with Cynthia Kahumbura, County Director, to discuss Jacaranda’s journey and goals for the future. 

Jacaranda Health is changing the status quo in Maternal and Neonatal Health 

Jacaranda designs and deploys low-cost innovations that can be sustainably integrated and scaled within resource-constrained national health systems. These solutions are co-designed with Jacaranda’s partner companies. The solutions deployed at the partner facilities aim to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality. Jacaranda’s partner facilities have shown a thirty one percent reduction in reported post-partum hemorrhage and twenty seven percent reduction in reported neonatal deaths. 

Insights on a few current projects of Jacaranda Health 

  • One of Jacaranda’s major projects, PROMPTS, is an AI enabled digital health platform. It empowers women with free health information and improves their health seeking behavior at critical moments. PROMPTS combines a sequence of gestation specific messages which influence the behavior linked with better health outcomes. Providing information regarding family planning, breastfeeding, and nutrition is amongst various other topics, all leading to better outcomes for mums and babies. 

  • Jacaranda’s emONC mentorship program is designed to build and sustain life saving skills among client providers by partnering with county public hospitals. Jacaranda Health has seen a fifty percent increase in neonatal resuscitation skills amongst the trained providers. 

  • Jacaranda Health launched its Delta e-learning platform during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide free learning services to providers, anytime anywhere.  

  • Jacaranda Health is focusing on building and strengthening their public-private partnerships to advance national scale up. 

Challenges faced by Jacaranda Health 

One of the biggest challenges faced by Jacaranda Health is sustainably scaling their solutions in a cost-effective way. This requires immense work with government partners to assist with planning and budgeting within their annual workplans to sustainably cost share these solutions. Another challenge is integrating the solutions within the wider health system. Providing mums true end-to-end support requires looking at the gaps, such as travelling to facilities, travel costs, and various others. To address this challenge, Jacaranda Health has partnered with private sector payers such as Rescue and ThinkWell to ensure that the existing health systems are working efficiently in providing high quality care to mums. 

Jacaranda Health’s future goals 

Jacaranda Health strives to reinforce their existing national and county level partnerships while building new private sector partnerships. These affiliations will help to improve cost sharing and advance the scaling and sustainability of Jacaranda’s solutions as a national standard of care. 

“People tend to think that looking around innovation is creating a fancy tool or project, but it’s really looking at being smart in utilizing, creating and adapting tools to suit your primary audience, and reaching them where they are in order to ensure impact.” 

Cynthia Kahumbura – Country Director-Kenya, Jacaranda Health 


To access the full interview with Cynthia Kahumbura, visit our YouTube page. Learn more about their impactful work on our website.