Amref Health Africa is working together with GE Healthcare, the global business providing health technologies around the world, to reduce maternal and newborn mortality rates across sub-Saharan Africa.
Amref and GE will be developing joint programmes to train health workers and reach women and children. The partnership will begin in Ethiopia, together with Intrahealth
and Project HOPE
, in 24 health centres and hospitals, with the aim of increasing the number of healthy mothers giving birth to healthy babies. Access to antenatal screenings and essential newborn care will be widened, and health workers in the facilities will be upskilled. The project will also expand access to family planning, and help to sustain lower rates of under-five mortality. The technology provided will include portable ultrasound for antenatal screening, baby warmers, anaesthesia and resuscitation equipment used during childbirth, and phototherapy devices which help mitigate jaundice in babies.
Health workers who operate in remote communities where access to medically trained personnel is often limited or non-existent, such as midwives, will be taught essential skills to perform additional tasks including antenatal scans, ensuring that critical, potentially life-saving services are available to the most at-risk patients.
The programmes will build on results from a six-month GE pilot during which 22 nurses and paediatricians were trained on the provision of essential newborn care. It showed a 24% reduction in facility-based neo-natal mortality, from 82 in every 1,000 admissions to 62 in every 1,000 admissions. The study was conducted by the Ethiopian Paediatric Association in consultation with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health, at four sites across Ethiopia, and involved more than 2,400 neonates. It also showed a 50% reduction in patient referrals and a one-day reduction in overall hospital length of stay after an NICU intervention to seven days.
The collaboration builds on successful existing partnerships that Amref holds with businesses, such as GSK
. It allows both partners to develop new projects that will combine their respective technical expertise and capacity-building know-how.
Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO of Amref Health Africa, said: "Amref Health Africa stands at the forefront of creating stronger community-based health systems that ensure access to quality health services for all. Training health workers on essential skills for mother and child health is a key component of addressing the high rates of maternal, newborn and child mortality that still exists in far too many communities."
Image: a mother, baby and midwife in Amuru, Northern Uganda © Jeroen van Loon for Amref Health Africa, 2017