Ultrasound Training and Use in West Pokot
In March 2018, the team at Saving Mothers travelled to Kapenguria Hospital in West Pokot, Kenya to further the implementation of a maternal continuum of care for women living in rural areas. The trip marked a dramatic expansion of health services available in the region, as Dr. Tara Shirazian and Dr. Noel Strong trained doctors, nurses, and traditional birth attendants in the interpretation of ultrasound scans and intervention in high-risk pregnancies.
Saving Mothers had sponsored two broadcasts on the local radio station to invite women in need of medical assistance to visit the hospital during the team’s stay. Over three hundred women stood waiting in line on the first day of clinical consultations, many having walked three days or more to seek help. Kapenguria Hospital has no Ob/Gyn doctors, so the ability to perform ultrasound scans represented a critical development in the institution’s capacities. Ultrasound capabilities proved crucial during these early days, as molar and ectopic pregnancies and uterine fibroids were diagnosed and operated on, with local doctors quickly learning how to interpret these scans. When one scan revealed that a woman was pregnant with twins, and one fetus exhibited severe growth restriction, an emergency cesarean section was called. After locating each twin in the uterus with a scan, both twins were delivered safely.
Since March, doctors at Kapenguria Hospital have implemented a bimonthly home visit rotation, in which they visit pregnant women who live far from the Hospital in their homes to conduct scans with a portable ultrasound unit. The Hospital itself, a collection of low white-washed concrete buildings in the county’s largest town, no longer marks the boundary of where maternal healthcare may be delivered. Saving Mothers is proud to provide ongoing support in this partnership, where the implementation of a maternal continuum of care program and the introduction of an ultrasound machine is diminishing preventable maternal deaths and birth-related complications.
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