For expectant mothers and newborns in the developing world, the difference between life and death can hinge on the simplest things: battery-powered light for the village midwife, screening for anemia, or a reliable map and transportation to the nearest clinic.

There’s no shortage of breakthrough ideas—from low-tech baby warmers to bicycle ambulances—for improving the health of newborns and mothers in under-resourced areas. The challenge is getting good tools and information to the...

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