Long Read

Portable device to reduce maternal mortality in Ghana

Maternal and neonatal mortality in rural parts of northern Ghana are higher than in many other parts of the rest of the country. The quality of antenatal care is low due to hard-to-reach health facilities and a lack of equipment for performing essential tests. Pregnant women commonly fail to follow-up referrals for testing because clinics or hospitals are too far away. Together with Cordaid and TNO, Simavi is implementing an innovative project to sustainably increase the quality of, and access to, antenatal care in this area.

Life-threatening pregnancy complications can be reduced or averted if risks and signs are detected in time and acted upon adequately. With financial support from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) we will equip small rural antenatal clinics in northern Ghana with a portable diagnostic device to enable effective diagnostics, therapy or prevention.

Bliss4Midwives: An integrated diagnostic device

Bliss4Midwives integrates multiple relevant diagnostic tests in one easy-to-use device. The device is fitted with a (tablet) screen and software that provide user instructions and decision support (to evaluate if referral to hospital is needed). This allows midwifes and health workers in rural and remote areas to run tests and interpret results, reaching women who otherwise couldn’t, or wouldn’t, travel to a far away clinic.

Improve antennal care

Both Cordaid and Simavi will work with a local partner in northern Ghana. 10 midwives or nurses from both local partners will use the Bliss4Midwives prototype. This group will  test the devices to monitor 500 pregnant women and their babies. We will assess the user-friendliness of the instrument, accuracy of findings and how it contributes to improved antenatal care services.

Business case

The devices will remain in the rural clinics after the end of the pilot. At least 500-1000 new pregnant women in this area should benefit each year from the continued use of the prototypes alone. We envisage a scaling-up of this project by providing a business case to secure future availability and affordability of Bliss4Midwives devices for more users in Northern Ghana and beyond.

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