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Uganda's life saving ultrasound innovation

07-20-2012 02:40 BJT

A new ultrasound innovation is helping mothers in Uganda's eastern district of Kamuli detect complications with their pregnancies before it's too late. Maternal and infant mortality rates in Uganda are amongst the highest in the world, and health experts say the ultrasound innovation may help change that.

It's been lying idle here at Kamuli Government Hospital for the last half a decade, gathering dust and cobwebs. No one on staff knows how to use the ultrasound machine or to read the images it was built to produce. Sixteen women die in childbirth every day in Uganda. Authorities here say hundreds of lives of pregnant women and their babies could be saved if the ultrasound were in service. Information from its scans are vital in predicting when a pregnant woman or the baby she is carrying might need special treatment.

David Mwanga, Administrator of Kamuli Gov't Hospital, said, " Well we normally get obstructed labour in maternity at a range of 8 to 12 and those mothers who get obstructed labor and we normally refer them to nearby facilities, we have the Kamuli mission hospital where we normally refer them."

Pregnant women here have had to bear the burden of moving 50 kilometers to the next district just to know the status of their baby, sometimes dying on the way. An American charity called Imaging the World hopes to change that, by bringing affordable ultrasound services closer to rural communities. The 8 million shillings pilot project was started at the Nawanyago health center in Uganda's eastern district of Kamuli.

Isabel Nakirya, Kamuli, Uganda, said, "For the first time in this rural setting a pregnant mother can be able to tell the status of her baby in just five minutes."

Health workers are trained to use the ultrasound, which uses high frequency sound waves and their echoes to make images of a woman's uterus. These images are immediately sent to another health center connected to the network and the results are sent back. This means a woman does not have to travel to far-off health units for a scan.

Monica Nawatuvamu, Sonographer, Kamuli Mission Hospital, said, “We have machines in here, then we open and read those images as they come in and then we send them a feed back through an email, an sms or a phone if its something urgent so that they act immediately."

The midwife in-charge at the pilot health center says this innovation is a life saver.

Angella njeri, Midwife, said, "The sweeps which we have been doing, they have really helped us to detect the abnormality of babies or if any baby is having some complication, we refer this mother as soon as possible or we act as soon as possible"

Maimuna Nalukwago says information from her scan made her feel more confident.

Maimuna Nalukwago, Mother, said, "You get to understand the condition of your baby, and am now happy that my baby is alive."

Health workers here in Kaamuli say they expect this ultrasound project will save the lives of over 30 mothers and their babies annually in this district alone. The innovation has been given a clean bill of health by Uganda's health research organization and it will soon be rolled-out to other parts of the country.


Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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