An expectant mother receives obstetric ultrasound screening using the Philips Lumify portable ultrasound machine and the Philips Mobile Obstetric Monitoring application in Mariakani
Over 3,000 pregnant women from rural Kilifi have received basic obstetric screening since April 2021 to check for risky pregnancies. This has adversely reduced maternal deaths and infant mortality rates in the county.
The Mimba Yangu (My Pregnancy) project, funded by the Philips Foundation and implemented by the Aga Khan University Centre for Excellence in Women and Child Health, East Africa (COEWCH EA) in partnership with Philips and the County Government of Kilifi, sought to assess the role of technology in access to quality maternal services and enhancement of birth preparedness.
Kenneth Miriti, Kilifi County Maternal, Neonatal, and Adolescent Reproductive Health Coordinator, said, “Many mothers give birth without knowing how the baby is in the womb and this has led to many deaths of the infants, the mothers, or both. Mimba Yangu has enabled mothers to know the conditions of their pregnancies as early as possible and refer them to appropriate healthcare facilities for skilled management which has saved their lives.”
Mimba Yangu achieved this by facilitating ultrasound screening at primary health care level through trained antenatal care staff. In its implementation, they used Philips Lumify, a portable ultrasound machine, and Philips Mobile Obstetric Monitoring (MOM) application, a software solution that allows community healthcare workers to identify and manage high-risk pregnancies.
The project trained 32 nurses and midwives from fourteen selected health care facilities (levels 2, 3, and 4) in Kaloleni and Ganze sub-counties. This was done through theory and practical sessions facilitated by radiologists from Aga Khan University, and senior sonographers from the Kilifi County Ministry of Health.
To further strengthen communication between pregnant women, community health volunteers (CHVs), and primary health care workers, 36 nurses/midwives across fourteen facilities in Kaloleni and Rabai, as well as approximately 250 CHVs were trained on the MOM application.
Speaking on the success of Mimba Yangu at its end of project dissemination and learning forum, Prof Marleen Temmerman, Director, AKU Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, noted “The project wanted to assess the feasibility of using the equipment and to determine the benefits of the same. We are proud to announce that our objectives were achieved through the early detection of various pregnancy anomalies and the ultrasounds eventually made a huge difference in infant and maternal deaths.”
Kilifi County’s Department of Health has established a transitioning strategy for the project by integrating the basic and crucial costs in their 2022/2023 annual plans to ensure its sustainability.
The project aimed at studying the feasibility and possible impact of the use of digital innovation and the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation of at least one ultrasound exam during pregnancy, best done before 24 weeks. The expectation was to enhance access to quality maternal care and prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth in three sub-counties of Kilifi County: Kaloleni, Ganze, and Rabai.
The benefits of obstetric ultrasound screening in early pregnancy include early detection of risk pregnancies and complications, exact assessment of gestational age leading to better management of pre-, post-terms births, early referral of pregnant women, and ultimately better maternal and newborn pregnancy outcomes.