Every day, as many as 1,500 women across Africa die from preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Millions of African mothers, particularly in rural areas, struggle to get access to basic forms of imaging, and there is high demand for basic ultrasound solutions in most African countries where governments are struggling to expand and upgrade critical health infrastructure. The ClearVue system, which can make high quality imaging available to clinicians, may help more African mothers deliver their children safely.
Without suitable warning of possible life threatening conditions, a pregnant mother and her unborn child may die from complications such as maternal hemorrhage during labor. Dr. Kristen DeStigter, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Radiology at the University of Vermont and president and co-founder of Imaging The World, a Philips-supported non-profit which provides ultrasound to remote areas of Africa, said that at least 20%-30% of maternal hemorrhage in Africa is due to abnormal placentation such as placenta previa, placental abruption, and placenta accreta. Analysis suggests that a certain number of these pregnancy complications could be precluded with the use of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. Using this diagnosis, the mother can be prompted to deliver at a capable health facility where outcomes can be managed appropriately.
“Ultrasound is unavailable or inaccessible in many of the world’s most impoverished regions,” Dr. DeStigter said. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide complications of pregnancy and childbirth contribute to 358,000 maternal deaths annually, more than 80% of mortality occurs in areas of high birthrate with limited access to healthcare, such as sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. More than half of these deaths are attributable to hemorrhage or obstructed labor. Peripartum hemorrhage is responsible for 25% of maternal deaths. It is also a factor in fetal and neonatal deaths. A certain number of these complications could be ruled out with the use of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. Unfortunately under-resourced areas rarely have ultrasound or trained people to operate them.
In the last ten weeks during its African road show, Philips has donated several ClearVue systems to several high level district hospitals in various parts of Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya and Zambia in an effort aimed at improving access to critical maternal and child health care services in the most vulnerable regions of the continent.
Peter van de Ven, General Manager for Philips Healthcare in Africa says the ultrasound project was in line with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) 4 and 5 that aim to reduce infant mortality by two thirds and maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015. “Worldwide, complications of pregnancy and childbirth contribute to 358,000 maternal deaths annually, 99% of which occur in developing countries. The use of ultrasound is imperative for health providers to rule out a number of these pregnancy complications as a diagnostic tool to address the most important factors in maternal and neonatal mortality,” said van de Ven.
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