Want to know how to deliver a baby? There’s an app for that


A new app called Safe Delivery has been developed for health workers in remote areas to deal with complicated births, and to help save the lives of mothers and babies.

The app, developed by the Maternity Foundation, University of Southern Denmark, and the University of Copenhagen, provides instructions for health workers attending to complicated pregnancies and deliveries.

The app includes animated video guides on how to address problems such as prolonged labour, hypertension and maternal sepsis. It also has step-by-step instructions on the manual removal of placentas, resuscitation of newborns and prevention of infection.

The information is based on the World Health Organization’s clinical guidelines and is designed to address the common causes of preventable maternal deaths, including severe bleeding and infections. Health workers using the app have access to a list of common drugs associated with childbirth, with information on recommended dosages and side effects.

Anna Frellsen, Chief Executive of the Maternity Foundation, says the app is aimed at health workers ‘on the periphery of the health system’, particularly where classroom-based teaching is difficult to deliver.

‘It’s for the health workers who may not specialise in maternal healthcare, but who could be stationed at a rural clinic where they are faced with these types of complications,’ Frellsen says.

The Maternity Foundation aims to roll out the app across sub-Saharan Africa, adding local languages with the help of national governments and Non-Government Organisations.

‘Three hundred thousand women and newborns die from complications during childbirth each year, and 90% could have been prevented if the woman gave birth with a skilled birth attendant,’ says Frellsen. ‘It makes sense to do whatever we can to give attendants the information and training they need, and as smartphone use increases, delivery of this type of training via mobile phones will be even more popular.’

Safe Delivery joins a growing offering of mobile-health apps, as phone ownership in Africa continues to surge. In South Africa, miLINC for MDR-TB is being used to collect critical information from patients who have tuberculosis while also connecting rural clinics with centralised labs.

Capitalising on the sustained popularity of text messaging, Totohealth allows expectant parents to receive health messages via SMS based on the stage of their pregnancy, including reminders on health clinic visits. And in Nigeria, telecommunications company Airtel teamed up with Grameen Foundation to launch the Mobile Midwife app, providing healthcare and nutritional information for pregnant women.

Of course, apps do not come without challenges, and Frellsen admits there are barriers for some health workers wanting to access mobile-health platforms. ‘Obviously, connectivity is an issue; while the app can function offline, it still requires internet access to download it initially. Smartphone access is increasing rapidly, but there are still people without access to the technology required for this,’ she says.

‘But these challenges are slowly being overcome. We do see this as the way forward in reaching people with the information they need. Apps such as this have huge potential in improving healthcare and saving lives.’

This story has been adapted. To view the original story, written by Carla Kweifio-Okai, please visit: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/dec/25/safe-delivery-app-maternal-deaths-newborns-baby-pregnancy


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