News / Africa

Ultrasound Project a Lifesaver for Mothers, Newborns in Uganda

An employee at the Health Care center IV of Busiu in Mbale district, eastern Uganda attends to Mary Watera, who is pregnant with her first baby,  September 27, 2011.An employee at the Health Care center IV of Busiu in Mbale district, eastern Uganda attends to Mary Watera, who is pregnant with her first baby, September 27, 2011.
x
An employee at the Health Care center IV of Busiu in Mbale district, eastern Uganda attends to Mary Watera, who is pregnant with her first baby,  September 27, 2011.
An employee at the Health Care center IV of Busiu in Mbale district, eastern Uganda attends to Mary Watera, who is pregnant with her first baby, September 27, 2011.
Andrew Green
KAMPALA, Uganda — Without basic ultrasound machines, many of Uganda’s health centers cannot anticipate when a pregnant woman will face complications giving birth, contributing to the country's high maternal and child mortality rates. 

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, for every 1,000 live births, at least 63 infants die before their first birthday in Uganda. Many of those deaths come from complications that could have been predicted by ultrasound technology. The situation also contributes to the country’s high infant mortality rate, with 310 out of every 100,000 women dying in childbirth.

But an expanding project is helping get ultrasound technology into Ugandan health centers.

Until two years ago, health workers at Kamuli Mission Hospital could not even tell a woman if she was carrying twins because there were no ultrasound machines. As a result, women and their families would not know they needed to be near health facilities that can handle complicated pregnancies when it came time to give birth.

Now Kamuli hospital is the pilot site for Imaging the World, or ITW. The project provides low-cost ultrasound equipment and a basic training program that allows even low-level health workers to take basic scans.

After the images are taken at Kamuli, they are compressed and distributed via text message or e-mail to district-level health workers, who examine the images and identify potential problems.  Specialists in the United States provide backup opinions. Health workers are informed early enough that a woman facing a difficult birth can be directed to a higher-level health facility.

Dr. Alphonsus Matovu, the medical director of the private Kamuli hospital, says the ITW project is working.

“You can easily catch pregnancies which would have resulted into bad outcomes and you can plan for an early intervention… which can help you save the life of the mother and the life of the baby," Matovu said. "And, these are the experiences that we have had since we began the ITW project.”

Dr. Kristen DeStigter, a co-founder of ITW and professor of radiology at the University of Vermont, says a combination of affordable Internet, reliable cell phone coverage and portable ultrasound equipment make the project feasible.

“We have the technology now and the time is right and I think that’s really what is motivating this project and the people who are a part of it," said DeStigter.

The cost of setting up the program in a health center is about $10,000. Last week, ITW finished installing new projects at eight additional health centers.

At Kamuli, DeStigter says the biggest surprise for her is what she calls the "magnet" effect. As women come for ultrasounds, they are staying at health facilities to be screened for malaria, anemia, HIV and other potential health and pregnancy complications.

ITW is featured as part of the Philips company’s Cairo to Cape Town Road Show. A team from the electronics multinational is touring Africa to highlight the work of some of the maternal and child health innovations it is supporting. The company has provided eight of ITW’s ultrasound machines.

With its success in Uganda, ITW is now considering expanding to sites in South America and Asia.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid