The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has entered into a partnership with Maternity Foundation, a Danish development organisation, to adapt a training app which teaches and instructs birth attendants in hard-to-reach areas on how to manage normal and complicated deliveries through simple and animated clinical instruction films.
Maternity Foundation, which works to reduce maternal and newborn mortality in low-income countries, developed the app, called the “Safe Delivery app”, for smartphones.
The “Safe Delivery App” was launched in Ghana to present and demonstrate how it works to a wide selection of key stakeholders, including health workers, academics, midwifery training institutions and civil society organisations.
The launch was also to explore the need and potential for health workers and midwives to use the Safe Delivery App in Ghana.
The app was discussed for the first time in Ghana in November 2016 during a meeting hosted by the International Confederation of Midwives where a section of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service, attended.
Since then, the Maternity Foundation and the UNFPA, supported by Denmark, have embarked on a partnership to adapt the app to Ministry of Health guidelines and procedures in Ghana.
At the launch, the Ambassador of Denmark, Ms Tove Degnbol, said: “We have great expectations to the potential of rolling out the Safe Delivery App to areas in Ghana which are otherwise difficult to reach.”
She said Denmark had for the past 23 years actively supported Ghana’s health sector, focussing particularly on efforts to reduce maternal health.
Ms Degnbol noted that although during this period, the maternal mortality rate was halved, the rate was still terribly high.
“I do not want to hide 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 health staff. It has been unbearable to see the rate of maternal mortality increasing in areas where we and other development partners have targeted our support,” She said.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Maternity Foundation, Ms Anna Frellsen, addressing the participants in the launch
Ms Degnbol disclosed that Denmark was gradually phasing out its development cooperation, adding: “Our formal health sector cooperation ended in February this year, while our other support will end in 2020.”
Meanwhile, she indicated that Denmark was gradually building up cooperation with the private sector, and the initiative of the Maternity Foundation was an example of a private sector activity which had the potential of having a significant impact.
In her presentation, the Deputy Country Representative of the UNFPA, Ms Erika Goldson, noted that although Ghana had made some improvements in reducing maternal deaths, the statistics were still unacceptable at 319 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The app, she said, should be seen as an additional training tool to complement the training midwives and other service providers had already received.
Ms Goldson indicated that the app was currently being used in Ethiopia, India, Myanmar and Tanzania.
“The Ghana version of the app has now been completed and can be downloaded and used free of charge by any interested health practitioner,” she stated.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Maternity Foundation, Ms Anna Frellsen, stressed that the app was created in 2012 with support from MSD for Mothers, in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and the University of Southern Denmark, and was currently being supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Ghana, she indicated, was a high priority country for the Safe Delivery App, given both the need for improvement of basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care and the expressed interest by implementing partners in the country.
She said the app provided skilled birth attendants with direct and instant access to evidence-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines on Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC).
The app contains easy-to-understand animated instruction videos, action cards, drug list and practical procedure instructions designed for low literacy and low-income settings and works offline once downloaded.
Ms Frellsen said the Maternity Foundation was in the process of developing an adaptive learning module on the Safe Delivery App, which would create a learning experience unique for each user based on his or her knowledge level, skills and learning preferences.
“Users will be able to track their progress over time, score points and eventually earn a certificate if they master all knowledge and skill areas,” Ms Frellsen stated.
She added that the app could be used as a tool to improve skills, knowledge and practice in a variety of ways determined by the need of existing health systems, programmes, facilities and individual skilled birth attendants.
Following the launch, Maternity Foundation and UNFPA organised a workshop for selected health workers on the use of the app and also to identify local challenges towards its use.