Optimal care during childbirth in rural areas of most low and middle income countries is hampered by 2 major problems: the limited equipment and capacity of health workers for diagnosis, and the quasi-absence of back-up from the hospital, which impacts on their motivation and competence. In order to improve the technical quality of care and the motivation of primary care maternity staff working in rural areas of low-income countries, the Ultrasound4Africa project proposes to develop a two-pronged integrated intervention:
- the provision of low cost smartphone-based ultrasound imaging systems (MobiUS device) that connect rural maternities with specialists. This telemedicine intervention aims at early diagnosis of life threatening obstetric complications, appropriate case management and rapid referral of critical cases to the hospital.
- The development of a network of primary care maternities with their referral hospitals, aiming at providing technical and moral support to health workers working in remote areas.
The pilot test will be implemented in rural maternities of 2 districts in Burkina Faso and Mali where access to Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) remains low despite a national policy of abolition of user fees for EmOC. This intervention is expected to improve utilization of antenatal care and skilled birth attendance by increasing women’s trust in primary care services and to contribute to reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity. Ultrasound4Africa will be implemented by national teams at district level and supported by a multidisciplinary team (clinicians, public health specialists and IT specialists) with an extensive experience in sub-Saharan Africa.