Big Data, drones, diagnostics—the United Nations and other groups hope to innovate the world out of a maternal and reproductive health crisis.
TOWARD THE END of 2020, on a work trip to Chocó, Colombia, Jaime Aguirre came across a girl—perhaps 11 or 12 years old—holding a newborn.
“Is this your baby?” Aguirre asked. Yes, she said. He was shocked. “Can I ask you—sorry—why did you get pregnant so young?”
“My boyfriend at the time told me that the first time that you have sex, you don’t get pregnant,” he says she replied.
Aguirre is the innovation coordinator for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Colombia, a human rights agency focused on reproductive health. It’s the UN’s “sex agency,” and Aguirre describes his job as bolstering health in his country by supporting new technologies. Making them accessible to young people is especially important, because pregnancy is the number one killer of girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide, according to data from Save The Children and UNFPA.