How mobile phones are making childbirth safer in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia where almost nine in every 10 women give birth at home after pregnancies with little or no medical support, a mobile phone app is coming to the rescue with lifesaving guidelines when things go wrong.

The “Safe Delivery App”, created by the Danish development organisation the Maternity Foundation, provides simplified instructions and animated films to deal with emergency situations, be it haemorrhaging, birthing complications, resuscitating newborns or infections.

“Midwives may have skills and knowledge,” said Mesfin Wondafrash, the Maternity Foundation’s program manager in the Horn of Africa state. “But they may not apply the right procedures when complications arise — even simple complications.”

At the touch of a button, the app can give crucial guidelines to birth attendants, who are often traditionally educated and may lack training in up-to-date procedures that could save lives.

The initiative is proving even more vital in rural areas, where the only help many mothers get is from family members or a local woman.

Described as an “emergency training tool”, the app is available in local languages and in English. And a key asset: it can be pre-installed on a mobile telephone so it works even without a network connection or Internet access.

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