Published by: Protus Murunga
Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from occidental or accidental causes (WHO,2015). Similarly, according to the government of Kenya paper named Maternal and Child Health: Kenya (2015), maternal mobility and mortality relate to illness or death occurring during pregnancy or childbirth, or within two weeks after pregnancy termination or childbirth.
Africa accounts for the biggest chunk of global maternal deaths and this is due to poverty which has a huge bearing on resource allocation and education for information access. In 2013, close to 289,000 women died of pregnancy related causes and 62% of this occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa (WHO, 2015, UNFPA, World Bank, 2014).
According to UNICEF, (2013), poverty is the main cause of maternal deaths in Africa since poor pregnant women in rural areas can’t access maternal services thus will opt to deliver at home where chances of survival are close to zero. The World Health Organization (2015), noted that the main causes of pregnancy related deaths are severe bleeding after birth, post childbirth infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, unsafe abortions, and diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS. In line with this, many hospitals are I’ll equipped in terms of resources and trained medical personnel. The hospitals lack crucial facilities like incubators for babies born prematurely and oxytocin which is used to stop severe bleeding after birth.
Technological developments in the field maternal health has progressed immensely through the introduction of the first foetal monitor. This was a breakthrough as many lives were saved and its significance has continued to grow worldwide.
Recent developments in mobile telephony and technology leading subsequently to mobile health or m-health technologies and the wearable sensor technologies have opened new possibilities and frontiers in terms of reducing the risks associated with pregnancy. These wearable technologies have empowered people with new aspects of engaging in healthier lifestyles and also tone down in chronic diseases as they already can sense them remotely.
The coming of the internet has also made improvements in terms of information access which reduces time and energy in various aspects. A wearable pregnancy belt for expectant mothers with three sensors will help detect complications in terms of the health of the mother and the heart rate and the foetal movements in order to identify any symptoms.
This device helps mothers detect their unborn baby’s heartbeat, movements and also any anomalies in their own health continuously rather than being kept in the hospital for scan and screening. The belt consists of lightweight harness with sensors that go over and around the belly. The sensors are connected to both the mother’s smart phone and the doctor’s smart phone through iCloud. This helps the doctor monitor the mother together with the unborn baby’s health remotely rather than having to travel or walk distances to physically meet the doctor.
The sensors provide data all the time about the baby and the mother’s condition during pregnancy. A Bluetooth-enabled device is attached to the monitor and collects and transmits data about the baby’s heart rates and movements and the mother’s health status to a smartphone and stores it on a secure cloud-based database accessible only to expectant mothers and their physicians. Additionally, the sensors are able to send data through SMS and also email to both the doctor and the mother’s smartphones. This is necessary so that SMS becomes an easy option especially for women who can’t access Bluetooth can have a choice.
An already established device for foetal health monitoring is available but has great challenges as it has to be moved around the bump thus a bit cumbersome (Lange, 2015). This creates uneasiness because the needed information may not be gathered and worked on with the urgency it deserves and may be a recipe for problems. Through this belt the long distances covered by pregnant women in order to see a doctor is curtailed.