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Kenyan hospital pilots pregnancy tech

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East Africa's largest medical facility, the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), has started using technology that could help reduce the high number of pregnant mothers who die of preventable causes.

The assistant director at KNH, Dr. John Ong'ech, says the the roll out of PartoPen and Partograph technology could help reduce maternal mortality in the country, which currently stands at 480 per every 1000 births in Kenya.

The PartoPen and Partograph technology can predetermine obstructed labour which is the leading cause of death among mothers.

The PartoPen technology, which uses a digital pen, has enhanced the labour-monitoring paper-based Partograph procedures. The digital pen provides audio instructions and suggests actions based on form data.

According to studies, the Partograph is effective in reducing complications from prolonged labor and can be used to asses and make correct decision about transfer, caesarean section or other life-saving interventions.

The rate of mortality is believed to be higher in rural Kenya where women give birth at home.

“Most of the deaths occur due to late referral but since this new technology is up to date, and real-time it will help us to save the lives of mothers,” said Dr. Ong’ech.

The roll-out of the Partopen technology pilot project has been undertaken by KNH in partnership with the University of Colorado, US. Heather Underwood a PhD candidate at Atlas Institute is developing the technology for use in sub-Saharan Africa.

“I am encouraged by the uptake of new technology by staff at the KNH and with this, the realization of millennium development goal number five is possible,” said Underwood in media reports.

Underwood received an 18-month Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Challenge Award of $100,000 that will support two pilot studies using PartoPen and will facilitate expanding the project to more health clinics in Kenya in 2013.

“KNH being both a referral and a training institution will see to it that this technology is replicated to other healthcare institutions in the country through training of the nurses and acquiring of the technology by the Ministry of Health,” said Dr. Ong’ech.

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