LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A British charity has invented an inflatable donkey saddle to carry pregnant women safely to hospital to give birth, according to media reports.
London-based organisation HealthProm and designer Peter Muckle pieced together inflatable camping cushions, the armrest from an air bed and part of an inflatable pool lounger to create the saddle, which was presented at the Institute of Mechanical Engineering's conference on low-cost technology medical devices in London earlier this year.
A lack of transport and the remoteness of some regions mean many Afghan women choose to give birth at home rather than embark on an uncomfortable and often dangerous journey to the nearest health clinic.
Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal, infant and child mortality rates in the world. Maternal deaths are 10 times higher than the number of civilians killed in a decade-long conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.
"The feedback we've had from Afghanistan has been very positive," Muckle said in an interview with the BBC.
In a HealthProm video, Azada Parsa – manager of the charity's Safe Motherhood Project in the provincial capital of Mazar-e-Sharif – said women who had tried the saddle, which costs $100 to make, were "very happy it”.
“They are coming to the health centre all the time while they are in labour," she added.
The goal is for every component to be produced locally by next year, Muckle said, according to The Atlantic.
"It's a pattern that I've made, so it's something that we are not selling really as a saddle – we're giving the pattern to people to copy," he said.