Enabling the Midwives of Uganda to Help Save Lives with State-of-the Art Ultrasound Technology

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Mindray Works with Microfinancing Partners in Africa to Bring Much Needed Ultrasound Imaging to Uganda

For every 10,000 births in Uganda, there are 592 infant and 204 maternal deaths. In comparison, there are 59 infant and four maternal deaths for every 10,000 births in the United States.

Microfinancing Partners in Africa (MPA), a non-profit organization, focuses on the needs of impoverished women in Africa. MPA recently launched a program in Uganda to decrease perinatal and maternal deaths. For every 10,000 births in Uganda, there are 592 infant and 204 maternal deaths. In comparison, there are 59 infant and four maternal deaths for every 10,000 births in the United States.

“Many of these perinatal and maternal deaths in Uganda are caused by obstructed labor,” said Sharlene Teefey, MD, Professor of Radiology, Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri and MPA board member. “If a woman survives obstructed labor, an obstetric fistula, an abnormal opening created between the vagina and bladder or rectum, often develops causing the woman to leak urine or stool. Such women are often ostracized from their villages and have no place to go.”

According to Dr. Teefey, one of the World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Goals is decreasing the number of maternal and perinatal deaths. To achieve this goal, women need access to good quality antenatal care and skilled midwives.

In several areas in Uganda, traditional birth attendants often deliver babies but have no professional training. In Masaka, Uganda, where the MPA program is centered, level three village health centers are staffed with skilled midwives who offer antenatal care and teaching to pregnant village women. However, the pregnant women often do not come for antenatal care or delivery due to costs, transportation, greater trust in the traditional birth attendant, and distance to travel to the village health center.

To that end, Dr. Teefey, in concert with MPA, is introducing a program in 2017 to teach midwives at village health centers in Masaka, Uganda how to use ultrasound machines and identify women at high risk for complications at delivery. Joining the effort was Mindray, a leading developer of ultrasound technology.

The MPA program is designed to decrease perinatal-maternal mortality in two ways. First, midwives will be trained to use ultrasound to identify women at high risk for complications at the time of delivery (abnormal fetal lie, twins or placenta previa). Such patients will then be referred to the local hospital MPA works with at the appropriate time for delivery or cesarean section. Second, ultrasound will be integrated into the antenatal visits. Early reports from the three village health centers that currently have ultrasound machines have shown a significant increase in the number of women coming in for antenatal care.

Masaka Diocese Bishop Kaggwa joined the midwives to present certificates at the end of the first course, which was conducted in January. After the group training in Kitovu, the ultrasound systems were delivered to three village health centers. Time was spent observing the midwives scanning pregnant women at each of the village health centers. The midwives quickly became adept at operating the ultrasound systems and interpreting the images.

“Mindray generously donated the three ultrasound systems, one to each of the village health centers,” said Dr. Teefey. “This donation of user-friendly Mindray systems with high quality images helped to make this program all possible. We are very grateful to Mindray for donating these systems and helping us successfully launch our project.”

Dr. Teefey and MPA hope to expand the program to other level three village health centers in the Masaka Diocese and continue training midwives in the use of ultrasound. MPA has partnered with Kitovu Hospital, which serves the Diocese, to provide oversight and communication with the village health center midwives.

About Microfinancing Partners in Africa (MPA)

In 1975 Antoinette “Toni” Temporiti, CPPS, MSW, PhD, joined the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood in O’Fallon, MO. In 2003 while on an eight month sabbatical, Sr. Temporiti traveled throughout Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. During the evenings, she would sit and share stories with the local village women. The story that Sr. Temporiti could not forget was the women asking her how do you decide each day which child to feed. In November 2006, Sr. Temporiti decided to start a non-profit organization, Microfinancing Partners in Africa after attending a conference led by Mohammed Unus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for pioneering the concept of microcredit. Since then, MPA has started numerous microfinancing projects to empower those living in extreme poverty to lift themselves up with dignity through access to services and education. Sr. Temporiti has been honored with numerous awards over the years. For further information, visit http://www.microfinancingafrica.org.

About Mindray

Mindray is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of medical devices worldwide. Its global headquarters are located in Shenzhen, China, North American headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey, a technology innovation center (formerly ZONARE) in Silicon Valley, California and multiple sales offices in major international markets. From the main manufacturing and engineering base in China, the company supplies, through a worldwide distribution network, a broad range of products across three primary business segments, which include patient monitoring and life support, in-vitro diagnostics and medical imaging systems. For more information, please visit http://www.mindray.com
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Laurie Hallwyler
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