Zubaida Bai contracted a serious infection during the birth of her first child in one of India’s best hospitals. Later, on a visit to rural Rajasthan, India, a midwife showed her the sickle used for cutting grass that was also used to cut umbilical cords at birth.

It got her thinking.

“If [a debilitating infection] could happen to me with the best of care, what chance do these mothers and babies have?” Zubaida wrote in her TED blog post. In fact, poor sanitation at birth causes preventable deaths of several million mothers and newborns around the world each year, mostly in developing countries.

Zubaida and her like-minded husband, Habib Anwar, set out to improve maternal health care for village women.

Making births safer

The couple founded Ayzh, a company that creates low-cost products that help poor women. Zubaida, already a product development and design engineer,earned an MBA degree to better manage the business.

Zubaida Bai holding bright pink purse up to camera (Courtesy of Ayzh)
Zubaida Bai holds the Janma clean birth kit. (Courtesy photo)

To help women giving birth, Ayzh developed Janma — which means “birth” in Hindi — a clean birthing kit in a reusable purse. It includes sterile pads to provide a clean surface for the delivery, sterilizing hand wipes and a clean clamp and scalpel for the midwife to use. Already, nearly a quarter million kits have been distributed in India, Afghanistan, Laos, Gambia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia and Haiti.

Next steps

With help from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and USAID, Ayzh is developing a second kit to protect newborns. Zubaida says that by protecting the health of women and their babies, her company gives women “more time, money and opportunity to lift their entire family out of poverty.”