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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid