Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Maternal Deaths in Uganda

Artificial Intelligence to Reduce Maternal Deaths in Uganda
Artificial Intelligence devices in Uganda
Uganda AI Lab, mobile gadgets to monitor expectant mothers: COURTESY PHOTO

Digital technologies are advancing from just improving lives to increasing the life span of many people today.

Artificial Intelligence is yet to enter many of our maternity wards in Uganda.

Mbarara district in western Uganda, mothers will start receiving artificial intelligence kits to enable their doctors keep a close eye on them in order to curb critical maternal emergencies and deal with preventable maternal deaths.

The device that works like the GPS tracker worn by accused criminals will be given to over 1,000 mothers who have experienced cesarean births to wear on their wrist for easy monitoring.

Artificial Intelligence in Uganda health
The gadgets will act as a GPD tracker to monitor expectant mothers: COURTESY PHOTO

How the AI works

  • The phone-like gadgets will monitor the expectant mother’s behavior for any unusual pains and movement of the fetus.
  • It will also look at the respiratory rate, pulse, and blood pressure.
  • Then it will send the information and analysis of the situation to a mobile-monitoring platform and alert responsible medics.

The study  was conducted by Mbarara University of Science and Technology and the AI developed by a New York-based firm, Current Health, with an aim of  improving postpartum healthcare for women across Africa.

Artificial Intelligence to curb maternal deaths in Uganda
Doctors and other Medics will receive alerts incase of a situation that requires attention: COURTESY PHOTO

According to Joseph Ngonzi, a senior lecturer and researcher at the Faculty of Medicine at MUST, AI devices will “improve monitoring in a resource-constrained environment”.

The stake of patients’ information privacy with AI

“We only use that data for the purposes of delivering our service and making it better for patients,” he said. “I believe patients should clearly know exactly what is happening with their data, and we make this very transparent to them.” CEO Current Health, Chris McCann said.

Artificial Intelligence maternal health Uganda
Patients, information will be transmitted in an encrypted form: COURTESY PHOTO
  • Patients will also be required to sign informed consent papers to indicate that they agree to the whole process and all data will be transmitted in an encrypted form.

However, he also showed concern about the unequal distribution of electric power and internet which may render the initiative futile in some parts of the country.

(Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Tom Finn.  Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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