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GE’s Vscan Solution Improving Maternal Care in the Philippines

According to the World Health Organisation, around 830 women[1] die daily due to preventable causes related to child birth, and each day almost 5,500[2] children die within a week of their birth. The burden of these deaths does not fall equally. The reality is that 99% of all maternal deaths occur in the developing world. These stark figures highlight a huge global challenge, and that challenge is one which the Philippines shares.

In the Philippines[3] 3,000 women die each year as a result of childbirth and 14 children out of every 1,000 born don’t survive past 28 days. In 2015[4], 114 mothers died for every 100,000 live births. That’s substantially lower than the 1974 sadly suffered by ASEAN neighbour Laos, but lags significantly behind the 104 per 100,000 maternal deaths recorded in Singapore in the same year.

Reducing maternal mortality and improving better outcomes for pregnant women forms a core part of the UN’s millennium developmentgoals. Only through the actions of private and public bodies in partnership can we reduce child mortality and maternal deaths effectively, and strive to meet those critical global goals.

Innovating solutions to global healthcare needs

GE has a long history of working closely with government authorities to deliver better results for patients. Now for the first time, we have the opportunity to offer the benefits of our innovative technology here in the Philippines. In the first project of its kind in the country, we’ve partnered with local authorities in Ilocos Norte to provide the benefits of our rugged, portable Vscan ultrasound technology to primary care users in the region.

“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,” said Ivan Arota, Country Manager for GE Healthcare Philippines.

In the town of Banna in Ilocos Norte, GE is partnering with local authorities to address one small part of this challenge in one corner of the country. Thanks to the functionality of one, small, innovative device, and a worthwhile partnership with the local healthcare system, we’re able to deliver some huge benefits.

What is Vscan?

 GE’s Vscan technology is a portable ultrasound machine designed and delivered specifically to provide an intuitive, easy-to-use device for primary healthcare providers in developing countries. Its lightweight,
portable, damage-and-dust-resistant design, battery-operation and flexible charging options make it the solution for rural clinics.

Its additional Bluetooth® wireless connectivity even allows data to be transferred to patients’ referral facilities or remote experts. With the addition of educational tools installed directly to the device, such as pregnancy education, videos for patients, and a reference library of scan images to support novice users of ultrasound, the Vscan not only provides a simple, effective tool for primary care users, but can form part of a vital family planning element that is key to good pregnancy care.

Early detection and improved care with Vscan

In addition to ultrasound screening, GE Healthcare 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 over the course of several days on the use of Vscan Access, and had the opportunity to perform basic obstetric ultrasound scanning.

“With this portable ultrasound, we can easily scan patients and immediately refer them to a higher facility if we see any problems or abnormalities,” said Dr. Remedios Peralta, Municipal Health Officer of
Banna.

This early detection and referral is one of the key  benefits of Vscan use. In the developing world, women are 300 times[5] more likely to die from complications during pregnancy than in developed countries. Early detection of these complications followed by referral to an appropriate expert can significantly lower the risk to both mother and unborn child.

The benefits of Vscan are not just limited to the direct benefits of ultrasound detection, but can provide a further boost to the wider care regime for expectant mothers. One study[6] in Uganda showed that implementation of Vscan use at a primary care facility led to a 72% increase in total antenatal care visits.
These visits form a vital part of safe, appropriate pregnancy care, and can significantly impact[7] positive patient outcomes in pregnancy.

A solution that matters

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. It provides an innovative solution that can deliver real impact to patients, a solution designed and delivered to those patients who need it most.

With this, our first Vscan project in the Philippines, we have an exciting opportunity to utilise this technology in delivering those better outcomes in the country for the first time. Thanks to the private-public partnership in delivering this care, we’re able to offer new skills to primary care users, and ultimately help contribute to better patient outcomes for mothers-to-be throughout Ilocos Norte. That’s imagination that really works.

[1] World Health Organization, Maternal Mortality, Updated November 2015 – http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/

[2] World Health Organization, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, Neonatal mortality – http://www.who.int/gho/child_health/mortality/neonatal_text/en/

[3] World Health Organization, Maternal and Perinatal Health Profile, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (MCA/WHO), Philippines – http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/epidemiology/profiles/maternal/phl.pdf

[4] World Bank, Maternal mortality ratio (modelled estimate, per 100,000 live births) – http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.STA.MMRT

[5] Unicef, Philippines, Extreme Risks for Pregnant Women and Newborn Babies in Developing Countries – http://www.unicef.org/philippines/mediacentre_10139.html

[6] GE Newsroom, Assessing Risk, Expanding Reach: Innovative Ultrasound Designed For Front-Line Healthcare Workers to Help Improve Maternal Health, May 2015 – http://www.genewsroom.com/press-releases/assessing-risk-expanding-reach-innovative-ultrasound-designed-front-line-healthcare

[7] World Health Organization, Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, Antenatal care – http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/reproductive_health/antenatal_care/en/

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