Humanity 2.0 Lab – the pioneering maternal health platform – published its first white paper on the state of maternal health worldwide. The paper identifies toxic environments as critical factors in hindering maternal health, including hundreds of women who die each day in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as impeding optimal health and development of the next generation. Moving from research to action, the white paper describes the Lab’s processes for mitigating these environments and contributing towards protecting the lives and health of women and children.
“Maternal health is one of the most important R&D projects in the history of humanity,” says Morad Fareed, CEO of the Humanity 2.0 Lab and Co-Founder of Delos. “Yet, around the world today, women are still dying during pregnancy, labor and the postpartum period, and two-thirds of these deaths are preventable. Doesn’t this bother you? Our Lab is a collaborative response to provide women – before, during, and after pregnancy – with leading science-based tools to help save lives and help build healthier humans.”
The white paper is produced in collaboration with experts from five organizations – Delos, Square Roots, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Commonsense Childbirth, and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The insights at the core of the team’s work identify some of the most common elements of toxic environments – including air pollution, stress, under-employment, and lack of support and services – with exposure likelihood influenced by the mother’s social context (e.g., racism, classism, and gender discrimination). Toxic environments not only affect the mother, but also influence the child’s birth outcomes and future health. The team’s approach has focused on expanding the window from the narrow episode of pregnancy to the entirety of a woman’s and infant’s lifetime, thereby highlighting the lifelong and intergenerational health consequences of materno-toxicity.
“We know that our indoor environments have a tremendous impact on our health and wellness,” said Paul Scialla, CEO and Founder of Delos. “With the launch of the Humanity 2.0 Lab, we are taking another step towards transforming the way we think about building design, products, materials and technologies, and to making better-informed decisions for both maternal health and the well-being of people everywhere.”
Developed in collaboration with Delos, a wellness real estate and technology company, the Humanity 2.0 Lab will leverage the enormous body of science within the healthy environments movement and apply it towards the critical periods of human development – pregnancy and infancy. This includes over seven years of Delos’ research with leading experts and institutions on how the places where we live, work, sleep and play can promote health, wellness, stress resilience, performance, restfulness and joy.
“Clinical and public health research and practice are currently very specialized, so Humanity 2.0 Lab’s holistic approach is important,” explains Dr. Ana Langer, who leads the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “We want to break silos and look at women’s health throughout the life course and across generations, because people’s health at every stage of their life will influence how healthy they are now and in the future.”
“The wearing down of a woman’s sense of self, her humanity, is so dangerous – in fact during pregnancy and birth it’s lethal,” explains Jennie Joseph, founder of Commonsense Childbirth Inc. and a co-author of the white paper. “Respectful, culturally-safe care supports and maintains dignity and prevents these poor outcomes. The Lab is going to be integral to the work, and hopefully, will reach women in especially marginalized areas and materno-toxic zones.”
The white paper will act as a blueprint for a revolutionary pilot on the island of Malta that will inform a new, cross-sector Lab platform that will be founded at a leading US center of academic excellence this fall.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Former President of Malta, offered to run pilot projects, after attending the second annual Humanity 2.0 forum of faith leaders, scientists, philanthropists and technology experts, held in Vatican City in May 2019.
“The Foundation and the Lab are both constructive and innovative,” she explained. “The idea is not simply to engage in a dialogue, but also produce outcomes. We hope that Malta can help develop, test and export that tool kit, offering practical support and assistance to other organizations and countries.”
Whilst most maternal deaths concentrate in poorer countries – nearly half in Sub-Saharan Africa and one-third in South Asia – suboptimal maternal outcomes exist worldwide. Furthermore, the United States has significantly higher rates of maternal mortality than most countries similar to it socio-demographically. This burden is not distributed equitably: 42.8 pregnancy deaths per 100,000 live births occur among black American mothers, compared to just 13 among their white counterparts; similarly, rates of severe maternal morbidity among black American mothers are 112–115% higher than among white mothers.
The Lab’s facility and platform will compile evidence and develop a comprehensive method for assessing what the team has identified as toxic social, physical, clinical and environmental factors and then develop customized toolkits to be scaled and delivered through global platforms, including the Catholic Church, which manages approximately 26% of the world’s healthcare facilities and includes 700,000 religious sisters across the world.
To download the white paper, click here.
About Humanity 2.0
Humanity 2.0 is a vehicle for facilitating collaborative ventures between the historically siloed public, private, and faith-based sectors. Its mission is to identify impediments to human flourishing and then work cross-sector to remove them by sourcing and scaling bold and innovative solutions through its platform. Developed in collaboration with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development at the Holy See (Vatican) and a consortium of science, health, and social leaders, Humanity 2.0 works with all people of good will to build institutional solutions that support human development, beginning with pregnancy and infancy. https://humanity2-0.org/
Delos is a wellness real estate and technology company guided by the mission to be the world’s leading catalyst for improving the health and well-being of people around the world by improving the indoor environments where they live, work, sleep and play. Informed by more than seven years of research and rigorous analysis of environmental health impacts on people, Delos and its subsidiaries offer an array of evidence-based technology and solutions for residential and commercial spaces. Delos is the founder of the WELL Building Standard™, the premier standard for buildings, interior spaces and communities seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. Its subsidiary, the International WELL Building Institute, administers and continues WELL’s development and drives market adoption. Delos’ advisory board is comprised of leading professionals across real estate, government policy, medicine and sustainability, including renowned wellness luminary Deepak Chopra and sustainability advocate Leonardo DiCaprio. For more information about Delos, please visit www.delos.com.
About Square Roots
Square Roots™ is a mission-driven organization focused on improving maternal health by developing innovative approaches to systemic challenges. Square Roots has worked with its ecosystem partners to identify best practices across the continuum of maternal health needs, and pioneered distribution channels to ensure these tools and programs would reach vulnerable and overlooked populations. Having passed the first maternal health resolution in 83 years at the United States Conference of Mayors in 2015, Square Roots set up a nationwide program called Birthmark Cities™, which engaged mayors to open free prenatal centers throughout the US. Square Roots’ research has included initiatives at NASA’s Health and Human Performance Lab as well as Ariadne Lab at the Harvard School of Public Health. http://www.squareroots.com/
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.
As a community of leading scientists, educators, and students from around the world, we work together to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives—not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices to create a healthier world.
About Commonsense Childbirth
Commonsense Childbirth (www.commonsensechildbirth.org) is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization that houses The Birth Place birth center, the Easy Access Women’s Health Clinic and the National Perinatal Task Force (www.perinataltaskforce.com). Commonsense Childbirth’s vision is that ALL women have a healthy pregnancy, birth and baby and as such no pregnant woman that needs care is ever turned away. The organization focuses on eliminating racial disparities in maternal and infant health and has significantly reduced the incidence of low birth weight and prematurity amongst at-risk women in Central Florida throughout the last twenty years.