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Gestational Diabetes: An opportunity to Improve Maternal and Child Health

Vida Nueva reveals that a small investment can mobilize stakeholders to make sustainable advances in health.


In collaboration with Novo Nordisk, a world-leader in diabetes care, Accenture Development Partnerships set out with a vision to catalyze the learnings on gestational diabetes awareness raising, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up from a project in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is a temporary form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy, affecting 14 percent of expectant mothers worldwide. GDM is an underlying factor for maternal and newborn mortality, but timely treatment offers an opportunity to improve pregnancy outcomes.

Vida Nueva, a locally managed GDM project in Barranquilla, has demonstrated how relatively small investments leveraging the public, private and non-profit sectors can make a significant impact on maternal health.

A group of diverse volunteer professionals, including experts from universities, NGOs, public providers and the government, sought to address the challenges of GDM in Barranquilla by:

  • Building awareness
  • Establishing standards of care
  • Increasing quality of care
  • Improving patient support
  • Building a public evidence base to support better ongoing care
    “The Vida Nueva project will undoubtedly generate a positive impact for maternal and newborn health in Colombia.”


    Ministry of Health, Colombia

    Gestational Diabetes: A Window of Opportunity to Improve Maternal and Child Health




    In 2011, Colombia’s maternal mortality rate was more than 50 percent above the Millennium Development Goal target. One contributing factor was a lack of attention to diagnosing and treating GDM.

    This lack of attention was rooted in several self-reinforcing challenges:

    • Low awareness and prioritization of GDM. The general public was largely unaware of GDM, its prevalence and its serious impact. 

    • Outdated standards of care. Fragmentation amongst maternal health disciplines had resulted in obsolete and neglected standards of GDM care. 

    • Insufficient diagnosis and treatment. Lacking prioritization and standards—and facing ongoing healthcare cost constraints—physicians rarely tested for, diagnosed and holistically managed GDM. 

    • Disempowered patients. Pregnant women generally did not know about the risks of GDM, request screening, or know how to manage the condition.

    • Scarce data. Evidence on the impact of GDM was not captured, making it difficult to effect changes in public health priorities and practices in GDM treatment.


    Accenture and Novo Nordisk engaged local and international stakeholders in Barranquilla to more deeply understand and document Vida Nueva's model. Health impact, partnership and stakeholder approach, key requirements, success factors and challenges, were captured, looking for opportunities to improve the model.

    The collaboration translated the findings from Vida Nueva into an advocacy paper with the intention to share project learnings and build awareness of the link between gestational diabetes, NCD prevention and maternal health. Replication of the Vida Nueva model through engagement of private sector businesses, governments, and NGOs elsewhere was the goal.

    Vida Nueva achieved its objectives through a relatively small investment that drove a big change. The subsequent adoption by the local government of GDM diagnosis and management guidelines as the official standard for Barranquilla ensured sustainable benefits. Results achieved in three years include:

    • Increased GDM screening rate from 5 percent to 97 percent

    • Increased GDM diagnosis by a factor of 50

    • Built awareness of GDM for more than 80 percent of all pregnant women within the public health system

    In acknowledgement of Vida Nueva's achievements, the Colombia Ministry of Health recognized Barranquilla as a national model city for diabetes care.

    “The project directly addresses some of the most pressing needs of patients. The work is of broad significance for all regions demonstrating that targeted patient support services can directly drive marked improvements in patient outcomes and shows promise to lower overall healthcare costs for a population.”


    Patient Health and Predictive Health
    Intelligence Lead, Accenture Strategy