Maternal mortality is one of the most difficult healthcare challenges to tackle. Every day, around 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, with 99% of those deaths occurring in developing countries. 1
In Kumasi, one of Ghana’s largest metropolitan areas, a group of volunteers are working to change that. The ISUOG’s Ghana Outreach Project, in partnership with Women’s Health to Wealth and GE Healthcare, delivers training in ultrasound for obstetrics and gynecology at Suntreso, Old Tafo, and South Kumasi hospitals.
To support their efforts, three Voluson ultrasound machines have been donated to the program, which is helping to train local healthcare professionals including nurses, doctors and radiographers to use the systems.
“I want to help mothers safely deliver their children,” said sonographer Abekah Adams, one of the trainees. “I know that my mother suffered a lot when she delivered, so I always had it in my mind that, when I grew up, I would help mothers deliver and return home safely.”
“The training that I’m getting from ISUOG will help us improve the quality of healthcare delivery in Ghana,” said midwife Ayishatu Sango.
Trainees have each been assigned a mentor to engage in weekly chats via WhatsApp to discuss images they have scanned and receive support on their scanning capabilities. They also took part in the #LoveUltrasound campaign.
“These trainees are both enthusiastic and passionate about scanning and making a difference in the lives of women,” said Gesù Antonio Báez, ISUOG’s International Development Coordinator. “It’s inspirational and promising for the future”.
Ultrasound is a key tool for understanding what is going on when complications occur during childbirth and throughout high-risk pregnancies. Challenges in pregnancy don’t only occur in childbirth: they can occur before, during or after delivery. In these cases, it is essential that the mother gets special monitoring and care. Factors like advanced maternal age, multiple pregnancies, and underlying conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy all affect the likelihood of a mother-to-be coming across complications in her pregnancy.
The Outreach team was led by Dr. Anthony Johnson, with local expert and volunteer Theodora Pepera-Hibbert and Janet Horenstein. GE Healthcare’ experts also helped teach the trainees to use the donated ultrasound machines.
ISUOG’s long term goal is to give every woman in the world access to ultrasound, and to ensure every scan provider is competent and that the diagnosis of obstetric and gynecological conditions is effective, to ultimately improve healthcare outcomes for women and families.
The program helps disseminate the highest quality ultrasound training and services. The ultrasound units and training being deployed in Ghana will go a long way to ensure that more Ghanaian mothers receive the care they need to ensure their pregnancies go smoothly.
Between 2016 and 2030, as part of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, the target is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births. With the ISUOG, WHW and GE Healthcare’s continued commitment to Mother and Child health in disadvantaged regions, that goal is well on the way to being achieved.