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Global Ultrasound Institute completes ultrasound training initiative to reduce maternal and neonatal deaths in Africa

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | September 28, 2023 Ultrasound
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Global Ultrasound Institute (GUSI) has announced the completion of the largest scale ultrasound training effort for medical providers ever conducted.

The 12-week program, which was part of a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Butterfly Network, trained more than 500 midwives, nurses, and educators in Nairobi, Kenya.

The clinicians, all frontline maternal healthcare providers, came from eight rural Kenyan counties that have the highest maternal morbidity and mortality rates in the country, as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Nearly 95% of maternal and neonatal deaths occur in regions where access to healthcare is limited," said Dr. Kevin Bergman, CEO and co-founder of GUSI. "In sub-Saharan Africa, around 200,000 mothers—and 28 of every 1,000 babies—die during childbirth every year."

While the use of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) during pregnancy and delivery is common in developed countries, access to this technology that can help save lives in less-developed nations is limited by numerous factors, including a shortage of ultrasound devices, a lack of clinical training, and inadequate funding for clinicians and patients alike.

The GUSI training initiative in Kenya was part of the largest-ever global deployment of handheld ultrasound probes, completed in partnership with Kenyatta University and Butterfly Network, with the funding received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Caregivers were trained to acquire and interpret the foundational antenatal scans of fetal cardiac activity, fetal presentation, single and multiple gestations, fluid assessment, placental location.

"Point of care ultrasound is the stethoscope of the 21st century," Bergman said. "It is revolutionizing medicine around the world by making it easier, faster, safer and more cost-effective to scan and diagnose patients wherever they are," he added.

Sheila Ayesa Masheti, a GUSI Project Coordinator and nurse in Kenya, has seen firsthand the positive effect of POCUS in her country. "We know that accurate, timely diagnosis correlates to good clinical outcomes," Ayesa Masheti said. "Wherever POCUS technology is used by midwives, clinical personnel, and other frontline healthcare professionals, it will help improve maternal and neonatal outcomes," she stated.

In studies and real-world use, it's been demonstrated that handheld POCUS systems can be used in telemedicine and triage across multiple specialties. This can improve care in prehospital settings and medical facilities alike, reducing costs across the healthcare continuum. Further, the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) has shown promise for low-cost analysis of the ultrasound images, an especially important factor in where resources are scarce.

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