A few weeks ago GE Healthcare launched a special device that can help improve maternal health. It’s called the GE Vscan Access, an ultrasound device to help address unmet healthcare needs in developing regions and expand the reach of care to mothers who need it most.
The town of Banna in Ilocos Norte is the first to use this technology in the Philippines, where more than 120 pregnant women were assessed using Vscan Access™.
The Vscan Access™ developed by GE Healthcare is a new portable ultrasound system designed specifically for primary healthcare workers—such as midwives, general practitioners, paramedics and clinical officers—in low-resource settings.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 830 women die every day from complications associated with pregnancy and child birth, with most of those deaths occurring in developing nations.
Photo: Mr. Ivan Arota – Country Manager for GE Healthcare Philippines, Dra. Dalmacion, Mayor Carlito Abadilla II and Dr. Rajan Kalidindi
“Improving maternal and newborn health remains one of the most pressing challenges facing the global community. From the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many countries still need to reduce pregnancy-related mortality,” said Ivan Arota, Country Manager for GE Healthcare Philippines. “Our goal is to work hand-in-hand with government partners and private healthcare providers to help build sustainable healthcare system in developing regions globally.”
Features of the Vscan Access™ designed with the input of and for healthcare providers in developing nations include a lightweight, portable, damage-and-dust-resistant design, battery-operation with flexible charging options, as well as Bluetooth® wireless connectivity so data can be transferred to patients’ referral facilities or remote experts easily. Software innovations such as pregnancy education, videos for patients, and a reference library of scan images to support novice users of ultrasound, were also developed with the primary care end-user in mind.
In the Philippines, the remote town of Banna in Ilocos Norte is the first to benefit from this portable ultrasound technology. GE brought a team of doctors from Manila to work alongside local health workers to assess the health of more than 120 pregnant women—including those from neighbouring municipalities.
“Maternal death in the eastern towns of Ilocos Norte is one of highest with five to seven deaths a year,” said Carlito Abadilla II, municipal mayor of Banna. “We are happy to partner with GE to make our goal of improving the maternal health situation in our community possible.”
In addition to ultrasound screening, GE Healthcare has also supported Banna’s healthcare providers with education, skills training and knowledge sharing. Around 12 primary health workers including midwives, nurses and medical attendants, were trained for several days on the use of Vscan Access™, and performed basic obstetric ultrasound scanning.
“With this portable ultrasound, we can easily scan patients and immediately refer them to higher facility if we see any problems or abnormalities,” said Dr. Remedios Peralta, municipal health officer of Banna.
According to Arota, GE Healthcare had spent five years conducting field research in more than 20 countries in order to help stakeholders overcome primary care challenges including physician shortages in high-mortality and low-resource areas, lack of demand for antenatal care (ANC), and lack of access to diagnostic devices.
“Studies have shown ultrasound can help enable task-shifting to midwives for basic obstetric scanning, mobilize mothers to seek more ANC visits and improve pregnancy management through early detection and referral of pregnancy complications,” he added.
In 2010, GE made a commitment to the United Nations to develop evidence-based solutions for maternal and child health by 2015. Vscan Access™ is the latest contribution to that commitment.
About GE Healthcare
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