Midwives bring portable ultrasound technology to Kenya’s remote communities

Midwife trainingThrough a partnership between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), AMREF International University and the Phillips Foundation, portable ultrasound technology is being made available to midwives from far-flung health centres in remote parts of Kenya

Some midwives have recently learned how to use the portable machine, known as the Lumify Probe, from experienced sonographers who guided them on skills including confirming whether a pregnancy is viable, visualising and recognising the number of fetuses, identifying where in the uterus the placenta is, and detecting the position of a fetus.

By being able to spot issues, such as breech position of the fetus or multiple pregnancy, midwives are able to provide better advice, monitoring and referrals. 

“When midwives become proficient in providing basic obstetric ultrasound at point of care, early detection of pregnancy complications and timely referral to higher level health facilities can occur,” said Priscilla Ngunju, a project coordinator with AMREF International University.

“Our hope is that more mothers are able to access at least one obstetric screen, done before 24 weeks of gestation, in keeping with the World Health Organization recommendations.” 

The trained midwives also received Lumify Probe devices for their health facilities. And because the device is portable, the midwives are able to carry it with them when conducting home and community visits, expanding the reach of these critical services.

In addition to eliminating the cost of transport to the mainland, the programme has greatly lowered the cost of ultrasound screenings. Ultrasound screenings at the clinic cost about US$5, while they can be double or triple the cost at specialist health facilities. 

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