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Midwife invents gadget to save babies

Peter Mwangi and five colleagues put their minds together and invented motherband, a gadget for monitoring foetal heartbeat

Millam Murigi @millymur1

Working at Pumwani Maternity Hospital can be hectic because the facility attends to more than 100 women daily, yet machines are not enough for all patients.

Having worked at the hospital for more than two years as a midwife, Peter Mwangi realised a gap in Cardiotocography (CTG) machines.

The machine is used during pregnancy to monitor foetal heartbeat and contractions of the uterus.  The machines in the market could be used on only one patient and took a long time to give final results. 

“In public hospitals there is a shortage of CTG machines and this forces doctors or midwives to send clients elsewhere. This contributes to increase of child mortality rate and stillbirths since not all parents can afford private services,” he says.

Upon realising this, Mwangi, an innovator, came up with a CTG machine to monitor more than one mother simultaneously.

This idea brought together five people from different departments and after several trials in October 2017 Mother Band, a new CTG machine was invented.

“The prototype took us about five months from October to February before completion. It could detect only foetal heartbeat, but it was noisy,” he says.

After the prototype,  the group decided to do something to reduce the noise. This took them one month before having the final product.

The gadget monitors only the foetal heartbeat and they want to upgrade it so that it can also monitor contraction of the uterus.

It has been rolled out for piloting at Pumwani Maternity and Mama Lucy Kibaki hospitals. 

“We expect the pilot project to take two months. We are hoping that local hospitals will embrace the gadget because it will reduce the number of stillbirths, child mortality rate and saves time,” he adds.

Display results

Mwangi explains that the group has  come up with two models; an individual model, which uses a smartphone as the display and hospital model, which uses a big screen as a display.

The commercial model, which can accommodate up to 10 people, works in a way that once the patients are attached to the band the processor then transfers the result to the display.

“From the display one can see the results of all mothers immediately, meaning that if there is any complication the doctor or midwife can advice accordingly,” reveals the 28-year-old midwife. However, Mwangi says the group has also designed another affordable gadget, to be taping sound and amplifying it before displaying the result, considering that not all Kenyans can afford Motherband, which will be going for between Sh30,000 (individual model) and Sh700,000 (hospital model).

“We believe that with these gadgets the cost of ultrasound scan will drop by half since one gadget can attend to more than one mother. Our aim is to see mothers giving birth safely and reduce the rate of stillbirths in Kenya,” he concludes.

Stillbirth

According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Kenya, the rate of stillbirths (a stillbirth is when a baby is born dead, but had reached a gestational age in which they can be viable outside the womb) is almost eight times that of developed countries.

A report published in the medical journal,
The
Lancet
, found that there are 96 stillbirths in Kenya everyday. There are 23 stillbirths for every 1,000 births in Kenya.

In 2015 alone there were 35,000 stillbirths in Kenya, an increase from almost 32,000 in the year 2000.

Kenya is ranked 11th in the list of countries with most stillbirths, with India leading with more than a half a million and Nigeria in second position with more than 300,000 stillbirths.

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