Ghana is to benefit tremendously from the launch of a ‘Safe Delivery App,’ which is a technology learning application tool designed to empower skilled birth attendants to provide safer delivery services.
The new application, which can easily be downloaded free of charge from Google Play and at App Store using smartphones and other technological gadgets, also works offline once copied, and can currently be found in the English and French languages.
The App is a partnership between the Maternity Foundation, a Danish development organisation that aims to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in low income countries, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and supported by the Royal Danish Embassy.
It was developed by the Maternity Foundation over a four-year period and is currently being used in Ethiopia, India, Myanmar and Tanzania, to address maternal challenges.
Ms Tove Degnbol, the Ambassador of Denmark, at the launch in Accra, expressed her frustration about the high maternal and child mortality recorded in the country in spite of the investments made over the years.
‘I do not want to hide the fact that we have sometimes been very frustrated when we had to struggle to have our funds channelled out to the regional and district level to be spent on essential equipment for the health staff. It has been unbearable to see the rate of maternal mortality increasing in areas where we and other development partners had targeted our support,” she said.
Ms Degnbol said much more could be achieved to save lives when the bottlenecks in the financial management were addressed.
‘During the more than two decades of our support, the maternal mortality rate was halved. This is a significant achievement, but the rate is till terribly high, and every single life of a woman that could have been spared is a tragedy for the family, for the newborn and motherless child, and for the society at large,” she said.
She commended the UNFPA for partnering with the Maternity Foundation for the App, which would help reach the remotest areas.
Ms Anna Frellsen, the Chief Executive of the Maternity Foundation, said Ghana was a high priority country for the ‘Safe Delivery App,’ given the need for improvement in basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care, and the expressed interest of the implementing partners.
The ‘App’, she said, had been designed to provide teaching and instructions for health professionals and birth attendants, especially those in hard-to-reach areas, on how to manage normal and complicated deliveries through simple animated clinical instruction films.
She said it provided skilled birth attendants with direct and instant access to evidenced-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines as pertained under the latest WHO Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care and the Ministry of Health Guidelines and Procedures.
Ms Frellsen, demonstrating how the ‘App’ works, said it had four basic features involving: easy to understand animated instruction videos, action cards, drug list, and practical procedure instructions.
These would yield positive changes against the current high national maternal and child deaths rates.
‘We believe that the Safe Delivery App will reach its full potential not as an isolated tool, but as an integrated part of health system strengthening efforts,’ she said.
Ms Frellsen said the features and functions of the ‘App’ was designed for low-literacy and low-income setting, adding that the Foundation was also in the process of developing an adaptive learning module on the App to create a learning experience unique to each user based on their knowledge levels, skills and preferences.
It would also enable them to track their own progress over time, score points and eventually earn a certificate if they mastered all knowledge and skill areas.
The Foundation’s Competency Centre, based in Copenhagen, she said, would support partners at national and programmatic levels to efficiently implement the ‘APP’ and sustain it at different engagement levels.
Ms Erica Glodson, the Acting Representative of the UNFPA, said her outfit had since 2008, worked with the health and education ministries, regulatory bodies and professional associations to promote quality midwifery care through its ‘Invest in Midwifery Programme.’
Its key objective is to end preventable maternal and newborn mortality and ensure universal access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services in Ghana.
Ms Glodson acknowledged the hard work and relentless efforts by all key partners to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, but said the current statistics of 319 deaths per 100,000 live births, was still too high and unacceptable.
‘We can all agree that too many women die each year from preventable pregnancy-related causes.
‘Lack of access to quality care such as quality family planning, emergency obstetric and newborn care, especially for the poorest women in areas with limited access to resources and skilled birth attendants continue to increase the maternal deaths in the country,’ she said.
Ms Glodson said the UNFPA believed that equipping midwives with adequate information and teaching tools would strengthen the quality of care for maternal, newborn and sexual reproductive health,
The Safe Delivery App should, therefore, be welcomed as an additional training tool complementing what had already been received, she said.
Dr Emmanuel Odame, the Director for Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, MOH, acknowledged the decades of sustained relationship between Ghana and Denmark, and said the introduction of the App was timely as the country struggled to attain the Sustainable Development Goals, especially on maternal and child health.
He admitted that the current maternal mortality rate was not an exciting news, which raised great concerns as to how services could be enhanced to lower the records.
He commended the Danish Government for the support, which was first discussed in Ghana in November 2016, during a meeting hosted by the International Confederation of Midwives.