By RACHEAL NINSIIMA
Royal Philips, a Netherlands- based health company focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation, recently showcased how cost-effective ultrasound technology that can reduce maternal mortality in rural areas.
This was during the unveiling of the ClearVue Ultrasound technology, a diagnostic tool for early detection of breast cancer, allowing for timely treatment. The ClearVue machines are also going to be used for scanning pregnant women.
During scanning, the acquired images are transmitted digitally via a cell phone modem to a remote internet server where they can then be accessed by a credentialed reviewer, in-country or abroad, for interpretation. A short report of the findings is sent via SMS to the nurse or midwife with a full report followed by email.
This model, incorporating low-power ultrasound machines, has been successfully developed and tested in rural Uganda with implementation at 11 healthcare facilities.
A study by Imaging the World (ITW) shows that through early detection of complications, women at-risk can be referred to appropriate care centres in time. According to the Philips Fabric of Africa trends report, women in Africa are at significant risk of premature death, with particular high mortality rates recorded in pregnancy. In Uganda, complications during pregnancy and childbirth contribute to the 310,000 maternal deaths annually.
“People in rural areas often die due to preventable complications as they have no advance warning of critical conditions. Many of these deaths can be diagnosed with basic imaging technology,” JJ van Dongen, the Senior Vice President and CEO of Philips Africa, said.
In addition to introducing new technology, Philips provided two days of clinical trainings for 125 local healthcare professionals at Mulago hospital.
Besides maternal screening, ITW is also using Philips technology, to detect breast cancer. ITW has developed an innovative way to detect breast cancer using ultrasound technology, instead of the traditional x-ray mammography.
This technique enables Ugandan healthcare workers to diagnose breast cancer in women who live in rural, resource-limited settings and have no access to mammograms.