SOURCE:Â Daily Nation
In Ethiopia, where almost nine in 10 women give birth at home with little or no support, a mobile phone app is coming to the rescue.
The "Safe Delivery App", created by the Danish development organisation the Maternity Foundation, provides simplified instructions and animated films to deal with emergencies, be it haemorrhaging, birth complications, resuscitating newborns or infections.
"Midwives may have skills and knowledge," said Mesfin Wondafrash, the Maternity Foundation's Programme 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 programme is proving 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 English and local languages.
It can be pre-installed on a phone so it works even without a network connection.
Officially, 85 per cent of Ethiopian babies are born at home. The hospital is often seen as an option only when major complications arise.
"Women wait at home and if a complication occurs, it may be too late to access care," Mesfin said.
Testing started last year in the small town of Gimbie, 450 kilometres west of Addis Ababa. A total 78 phones with the app were given to midwives.
"After a year, the capacity of the app users to manage bleeding rose from 20 to 60 per cent, and new born resuscitation, from 30 to 70 percent," Mesfin added.