How mobile phones are making childbirth safer in Ethiopia

2015-11-11 12:48
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Addis Ababa - In Ethiopia where almost nine in every 10 women give birth at home after pregnancies with little or no medical support, a mobile phone app is coming to the rescue with lifesaving guidelines when things go wrong.

The "Safe Delivery App", created by the Danish development organisation the Maternity Foundation, provides simplified instructions and animated films to deal with emergency situations, be it haemorrhaging, birthing complications, resuscitating newborns or infections.

"Midwives may have skills and knowledge," said Mesfin Wondafrash, the Maternity Foundation's program manager in the Horn of Africa state. "But they may not apply the right procedures when complications arise - even simple complications."

At the touch of a button, the app can give crucial guidelines to birth attendants, who are often traditionally educated and may lack training in up-to-date procedures that could save lives.

The initiative is proving even more vital in rural areas, where the only help many mothers get is from family members or a local woman.

Described as an "emergency training tool", the app is available in local languages and in English. And a key asset: it can be pre-installed on a mobile telephone so it works even without a network connection or Internet access.

'Easy to understand, access, update'

Officially, 85% of Ethiopian babies are born at home. The hospital is often seen as an option only when major complications arise - often too late to save a life.

"Pregnant women wait at home and if a complication occurs, like bleeding, it may be too late to access care," Mesfin told AFP.

In a promising trial run, testing started last year in the small town of Gimbie in the Oromo region, some 450km west of the capital Addis Ababa.

A total 78 mobile phones with the "Safe Delivery App" were given to midwives attending local women.

"After a year, the capacity of the app users to manage bleeding rose from 20% to 60%, and for new born resuscitation, from 30% to 70%," Mesfin added.

"If all health care providers could use this app, safe delivery would increase."

The Maternity Foundation says the preliminary results "show a remarkable improvement in the skill and knowledge level of the health workers."

"The advantage of the app over a medical book is that it is easy to understand, easy to access and easy to update," said foundation chief Anna Frellsen.

'No women should die giving birth'

Every year, five million babies and 289 000 mothers die from complications related to childbirth worldwide, with the majority of the deaths in developing countries such as Ethiopia.

The foundation - whose motto is "no women should die giving life" - aims to tap the sharp rise in mobile phone users in Africa, a technology, it said, that offers "abundant unexplored potential" to quickly reach otherwise hard to access areas.

"With the Safe Delivery App, we can overcome one of the biggest barriers to preventing maternal mortality: the lack of trained childbirth support. We can reach health workers that are otherwise difficult to reach," she said.

The app is also being tested in Ghana and will soon be deployed in Tanzania, Guinea and elsewhere. The foundation's goal is to equip 10 000 health workers by 2017.

"If we achieve that, we will have ensured a safer birth for approximately one million women," said Frellsen.

Read more on:    ethiopia  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.