Skill building to expand midwife capability and nurse capability in the maternal-infant health context has proven to be critical. Approximately 60 million births each year occur in settings other than health facilities, and 52 million of these births take place without the support of a skilled birth attendant, exponentially increasing the risks imposed on both the mother and the infant. Women, particularly in developing countries and rural areas, face three delays when it comes to prenatal care:
delay in seeking care (inability to identify complications, lack of education on risks, unskilled homebirth attendants)
delay in reaching care (last minute transit arrangements, extraordinarily long transit times, no life support during transit), and
delay in receiving care (under-resourced care facilities, little integration with antenatal care).
GE Healthcare has been evaluating how appropriate ultrasound technology and training provided to midwives can help overcome these challenges. Ultrasound technology such as Vscan, a portable hand-held device
about the size of a mobile phone, holds the potential of bringing obstetric scanning to mothers who need it most regardless of the remoteness of their location. Preliminary assessments by researchers have concluded
that properly trained midwives can competently perform obstetric ultrasound, that portable ultrasound functions well in remote primary care clinics, and that ultrasound mobilizes mothers to seek care early in their pregnancy. In Tanzania, healthcare providers with no previous training on basic radiology skills were taught to operate hand-held ultrasounds through a mix of theory and practical sessions. During the theoretical sessions, methods of training included PowerPoint presentations, lectures, group discussions, and question-and-answer sessions. Practical sessions included demonstrations, use of sample images, and hands-on practical sessions.