Ministry of Health, UNFPA launch child delivery app

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Representatives from the United Nations Population Fund and various line departments of the Ministry of Health met yesterday in Vientiane to launch the Lao version of an app that aids in child birth.

The Safe Delivery app, symbolising the power of mobile technology, is targeted towards midwives in Laos to help make childbirth safer for women across the country, even in the most remote areas, a health official explained.

The innovative smartphone application provides skilled birth attendants with direct and instant access to evidence-based and up-to-date clinical guidelines on basic emergency obstetric and neonatal care to handle potentially life-threatening complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Both the development and roll-out of the app were supported by MSD for Mothers and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Speaking at the roll-out, Acting Director of Department of Training and Research under the Ministry of Health, Dr Somchan Xaysida confirmed that in order to strengthen the public health infrastructure, they needed a range of tools including mobile technology to first strengthen technical capacity and service delivery.

He said the Safe Delivery app is a logical addition to their national midwifery programme adding that “quite simply, midwives save lives, and this will help them safeguard even more women before, during and after childbirth.”

The Safe Delivery app is a relatively modest investment in financial terms. The app is customised in such a way that its socio-culturally sensitive illustrations and modules can be applied to several countries across a region, thereby helping reduce the eventual production cost significantly for each country where it’s adopted, he said.

UNFPA to Laos representative, Frederika Meijer said that even one woman dying needlessly during childbirth is one too many. Maternal mortality cannot be seen in isolation, however. It’s tied to a range of issues and challenges, including access to sexual and reproductive health for women and girls in particular, grounded in gender equality and right all of these cross-cutting issues under the Sustainable Development Goals that support the 2030 Agenda.

“The Safe Delivery app is just one of the ways in which UNFPA and partners can contribute to the government’s efforts to secure the health and well-being of its citizens,” she added. The Lao version of the app will be introduced in midwifery schools over the 2017-2018 school year, with the aim of reaching 1,000 midwifery students many of whom will be deployed to rural areas where traditionally midwifery and other essential maternal and neonatal health services have been thin on the ground.

According to UNFPA, the maternal mortality rate in the Lao PDR has been dropping steadily in recent years, from 357 per 100,000 live births in 2012 to 206 per 100,000 live births in 2015, surpassing the target set under the Millennium Development Goals.

Now the challenge is in reaching the target of 180 per 100,000 live births, in order for the Lao PDR to graduate from Least Developed Country status by 2020 and strengthen its ability to respond to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda whose pledge is to leave no one behind.

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