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Recognizing the Necessity of Mobile Midwives

What may be considered a symbol of wealth and status to some is a necessity to others. In many developing regions of the world, midwives fill gaps created by a dearth of doctors and are of vital importance to ensuring safe labor and delivery for mother and child.

Globally, an estimated 800 women and more than 8,000 newborns die every day due to, largely preventable, complications. In Nigeria, a country in which I have spent much time, maternal and infant mortality rates are among the world’s highest. This isn’t surprising considering estimates that just 34 percent of live births in Nigeria are attended by skilled personnel. Thankfully, the Nigerian government is taking action.

As just announced at Mobile World Congress, the Nigerian National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is working to prevent maternal and infant death by bolstering the country’s midwife health workforce, particularly in rural and remote communities. In support of the government’s efforts, InStrat Global Health Solutions, Qualcomm Wireless Reach™, Vecna Cares, and the NPHCDA are collaborating to implement a mobile electronic medical record system called CliniPAK360. This system will allow midwives and clinic-based health professionals to more closely track at-risk patients and make timely, more informed decisions about patient care.

NPHCDA Midwives being trained on use of Tablet Computers for data capture and decision support.

The CliniPAK360 project provides midwives with 3G-enabled tablets, connectivity and a mobile application for point of care assessment, health management, screening and referrals for pregnant women. We rolled out this project in late 2013 in Abuja and are continuing into two new states within Nigeria. It has been an incredible experience for me and the project team to be able to train midwives and other health care workers to use tablets to record and transmit patient data that is then shared with clinicians and policy leaders. This system alerts midwives to risk factors and red flags in real-time, based on the information they have provided.

We hope that the program will result in improved health outcomes, reduced maternal and infant mortality rates, faster response to public health threats and better coordination of health resources. I am rooting for this project’s success and am optimistic in its ability to be replicated for every woman, family and community in need. We have just begun this work but I can tell you that the look of astonishment on the faces of the midwives we work with makes it clear that they already understand the positive affect mobile can have on their work and in their patients’ health.

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