The vital role of tech in the pregnancy journey

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Aug 23, 2019
By the Philips Foundation team
The Philips Foundation and Aga Khan University​, Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health in East Africa, join forces to enhance access to quality maternal care and prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth that often lead to tragic, yet avoidable outcomes for  mothers and their unborn children.
The vital role of tech in the pregnancy journey
Every day, around 800 women worldwide die from preventable pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. Maternal mortality remains high due to a lack of access to skilled care, communication within and between health facilities and limited information at the community and primary health care level.
A great majority of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, of which Kenya is no exception. To give an example, a study conducted in 2015 in Malindi, one of the largest sub-counties in Kilifi County, Kenya, reported a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of approximately 428 per 100,000 likely due to pregnancy and birth-related complications. Here, as with other disadvantaged communities, overcoming the lack of knowledge and access to quality maternal care is a major challenge.

A key role for technology

 

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that every pregnant woman should undergo at least one ultrasound scan, preferably before 24 weeks of pregnancy. The 24-week period is of vital importance to accurately estimate the gestational age, improve the detection of fetal abnormalities and to detect multiple pregnancies.

 

In addition, the WHO recommends increased contact between pregnant women and the antenatal health care providers to improve communication, identification and the management of potential complications. This can be effectively achieved through strengthening provision of quality services at the primary care level, but also strengthening the referrals within the broader health system and utilization of technology to improve communication between healthcare providers and their patients.

Mimba Yangu: Deploying Philips’ and the Aga Khan University’s expertise and know-how

 

The collaborative project between the Philips Foundation and Aga Khan University by the name of Mimba Yangu, meaning “My Pregnancy”, will therefore assess the effect of introducing portable ultrasound services through Philips’ Lumify innovation along with the use of digital web and mobile applications, referred to as Philips’ Mobile Obstetric Monitoring (MOM), at the primary care level in three sub-counties of Kilifi County, Kenya, on quality of care and pregnancy outcomes.

 

The intervention is expected to improve the quality of service, increase the uptake of early prenatal care, improve the outcome of pregnancy and improve communication between pregnant women and community health workers, and significantly contribute to an improvement of the wider health system in developing countries. The project partners will provide evidence and measure the expected outcomes to inform policy and decision-makers at national and sub-national levels.

With this project, the Philips Foundation and Aga Khan University aim to improve the lives of 200,000, not only directly affecting mothers and their unborn children, but also indirectly impact family members whose lives may depend in varied ways on having a positive outcome.

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