Ultrasound station in Uganda turning tide of childbirth difficulties
African nation has high infant mortality rate
The Kamuli hospital in Uganda is helping to turn the tide of childbirth
difficulties in this African nation. Called Imaging the World, or ITW,
the project provides low-cost ultrasound equipment in addition to basic
training that allows even the lowest-level health worker to take basic
The Kamuli hospital in Uganda is helping to turn the tide of childbirth difficulties in this African nation. Called Imaging the World, or ITW, the project provides low-cost ultrasound equipment in addition to basic training that allows even the lowest-level health worker to take basic scans.
Specialists in the United States then provide second opinions. Workers in Uganda can then be informed early enough that a woman facing a difficult birth can be directed to a higher-level health facility.
Many of Uganda's health centers cannot anticipate when a pregnant woman will face complications giving birth without an ultrasound. The paucity of the service is a contributing factor to Uganda's high maternal and child mortality rates.
For every 1,000 live births, at least 63 infants die before their first birthday in Uganda. According to the United Nations Children's Fund, many of those deaths come from complications that could have been detected by ultrasound technology. It's estimated that 310 out of every 100,000 women in Uganda die in childbirth.
Until two years ago, health workers at the Kamuli Mission Hospital could not even tell a woman if she was carrying twins because without ultrasound machines. Women and their families would not know they needed to be near health facilities that can handle complicated pregnancies when it came time to give birth.
"You can easily catch pregnancies which would have resulted into bad outcomes and you can plan for an early intervention. which can help you save the life of the mother and the life of the baby," Dr. Alphonsus Matovu, the medical director of the private Kamuli hospital. "And, these are the experiences that we have had since we began the ITW project."
Dr. Kristen DeStigter, a co-founder of ITW and professor of radiology at the University of Vermont, says a combination of affordable Internet, reliable cell phone coverage and portable ultrasound equipment make the project feasible.
"We have the technology now and the time is right and I think that's really what is motivating this project and the people who are a part of it," DeStigter says.
ITW finished installing new projects at eight additional health centers this month.
DeStigter is pleased that the introduction of ultrasounds of what she calls the "magnet" effect. As women come for ultrasounds, they are staying at health facilities to be screened for malaria, anemia, HIV and other potential health and pregnancy complications.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Uganda, ultrasound, childbirth, pregnancy, imaging
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