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Philips Foundation webinar series on strengthening healthcare access


Lessons from the field
Improving access to ultrasound services in underserved settings

March 2023, Philips Foundation hosted its sixth webinar of a series on strengthening access to quality healthcare for underserved communities. This webinar focused on the importance of improved access to ultrasound in promoting better health outcomes for expectant mothers. The discussion was build on a previous edition in the series, highlighting the critical role that ultrasound technology plays in reducing maternal mortality rates.


Philips Foundation Webinar 6


You'll hear from our partner organizations that have been actively engaged in rendering obstetric ultrasound services in underserved regions of Kenya and Brazil.


You can watch the recording, or read our editorial we will publish later on, based on the discussions that took place during the webinar.

Background information


According to a recent report by United Nations, maternal mortality remains a major concern, with one woman dying every two minutes due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. The majority of these deaths occur in the most underserved parts of the world. 


The report highlights various factors contributing to maternal mortality, including delays in accessing and providing care, poor quality of care, shortages of supplies, and poor accountability of health systems. Additionally, social determinants of health and inequalities put some populations at greater risk.


To improve pregnancy outcomes, the WHO recommends ultrasound scans before 24 weeks of pregnancy to estimate gestational age, detect fetal anomalies and multiple pregnancies and reduce the need for induction of labor for post-term pregnancy.


Technological innovations, such as point-of-care ultrasound and tele-ultrasound, have the potential to overcome some of the barriers to ultrasound access and improve the availability of high-quality ultrasound in underserved settings.


Philips Foundation has collaborated with partners across the world to explore ways of improving access to high-quality ultrasound. In a previous webinar, we shared learnings on various models aimed at improving obstetric ultrasound in underserved settings.

Speakers from Aga Khan University, Kenya and SAS Brazil, shared their expertise and provided an in-depth look at two programs in Kenya and Brazil supported by the Philips Foundation. These programs aim to overcome barriers to high-quality ultrasound access by empowering frontline health workers to perform ultrasounds during antenatal care. 


By sharing our learnings and experiences, we hope to provide insights into effective strategies for improving pregnancy outcomes and reducing maternal mortality in vulnerable communities. The webinar addressed the topic as follows:


  1. Share lessons from our project with Aga Khan University in Kenya aimed at assessing the role of technology in improving access to quality maternal services and enhancement of birth preparedness.
  2. Share lessons from our project with SAS Brazil, providing specialized healthcare to communities that live far from Brazil’s urban centers.
  3. Discuss the challenges and cross-cutting lessons that can inform the roadmap to achieving universal obstetric ultrasound as part of a positive antenatal care experience as envisioned in the WHO guidelines.

Confirmed speakers


Guest speaker
Prof. Marleen Temmerman
Prof. of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Aga Khan University


Guest speaker 
Dr. Nidhi Leekha
Aga Khan University


Guest speaker
Sabine Bolonhini
Chief Operations Officer
SAS Brasil


Dr. Muthoni Ntonjira
General Manager
Philips East Africa

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