This is part of a series of profiles of Harvard alumni who are young entrepreneurs in South Asia.
In developing countries such as Pakistan, many births take place at home and are often attended by unskilled birth attendants in suboptimal conditions. This leads to a prevalence of infections – especially umbilical infections that can lead to life-threatening neonatal sepsis.
Sabeena Jalal, an alum of Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and currently based in Karachi, is trying to do something about it. She has developed a special blade to be used by midwives to cut the umbilical cord. The blade is made of zirconia, which prevents bacteria from growing and does not rust. Jalal hopes that this tool will reduce the rate of infant mortality in developing countries.
SAI recently spoke to Jalal about how she developed the idea, and her experience as a young “entrepreneur” in South Asia.
SAI: Tell me a bit about the background for this product. What problem are you trying to solve?
Sabeena Jalal: When I worked in medicine at a government hospital, I got the idea to develop something that no matter what the environment is – hospital or home – a woman giving birth will be healthy.