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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More