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Agent Of Change: Ford Empowers Women And Saves Lives In Rural India Through New Technology, SUV Capabilities

As a result, SUMURR made safe childbirth possible for 41 pregnant women; women like Mageswari, who – with the help of the Ford Endeavour – was able to make it to the hospital in just enough time to give birth.

"If not for Ford Endeavour, I might have tried to reach the hospital in a two-wheeler," she says. "I do not know what might have happened."

The intervention area of Kalvarayan Hills has a higher infant and maternity mortality rate compared with most other pockets of Tamil Nadu – a key indicator of the need for prenatal care in the region.

Mageswari's situation illustrates the kind of need that was addressed by SUMURR, and that's where Ford comes in, according to David Berdish, manager of Social Sustainability.

Berdish says Ford is acting as an agent of change for a better world by forging innovative public-private partnerships with government, academic institutions, nonprofit stakeholders and company resources to support positive social advancement.

SUMURR represents the overall direction of such efforts. In fact, Berdish says similar projects are already being considered for other regions around the globe, including other parts of rural India, one in the state of Gujarat, India – where Ford has a manufacturing plant – and also in China and Brazil.

"Ford Motor Company is not in the business of telemedicine, but between the vehicle and the technology we provide, we can make it better," says Berdish.

Nine months of success

The pilot program began in June 2012 and concluded in February 2013. In addition to facilitating safe childbirth for the women with high-risk pregnancies, the program led to 27 temporary pediatric and gynecology camps being set up in remote villages. Such visits enabled about 1,600 women and children to receive much needed healthcare, including screenings for basic illnesses and immunization coverage.

SUMURR reached another 3,100 people with its partners as the program traveled to 54 villages to facilitate community awareness programs on maternal and child health issues.

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