New ultrasound technology to improve maternal care

Twenty-four handheld ultrasound devices are being deployed to public health facilities as part of plans to modernize maternal and newborn care. The portable devices will improve patient care and enable more effective diagnostics across the public health system.

Funded by the American friends of Jamaica (AFJ), the Butterfly Handheld Ultrasound Monitor will be received into 8 Obstetrics Units under the Ministry’s latest maternal health initiative, Start Right – to support high-risk, low-income pregnant women. The handheld whole-body ultrasound probe, which represents the latest technology in medical imaging, was introduced to clinicians during the Ministry’s launch ceremony for the programme. “Supported by iPad technology, the portable devices will enable early and rapid diagnostics such as screening for birth or heart defects, prenatal testing and checks for pregnancy complications,” said Minister of State, the Hon. Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn while addressing the ceremony on Monday.

The innovative device which is now being used globally is small, mobile-friendly and can carry out scans at the bedside of patients.

Revolutionizing Care

According to Dr. Garfield Clunie, Maternal and Foetal Subspecialist and President of the National Medical Association in the U.S., the Butterfly Monitor will revolutionize care for Jamaicans. He noted in particular that the portable ultrasound device has the ability to diagnose maternal haemorrhaging, one of the foremost causes of maternal death. “Top of the global health agenda is ending preventable maternal deaths. The World Health Organization notes that maternal mortality greatly affects women in low resource settings,” the Minister of State added.

Furthermore, ten percent of women worldwide suffer pregnancy or childbirth-related complications and 40% have morbidities and disabilities post-delivery. Ultrasound technology is a proven life-saving resource that is especially critical during emergency care. The selected hospitals to receive the devices are Victoria Jubilee, Spanish Town, Princess Margaret, St Ann’s Bay, Cornwall Regional, May Pen, Mandeville Regional, and Savanna La Mar. Accident and Emergency Departments at several other facilities, including Black River Hospital, Kingston Public Hospital and University Hospital of the West Indies will also receive the handheld tool.

Over 40 clinicians based at public health facilities are now being trained in ultrasound technology at a two-day workshop hosted by Jamaica Abroad Helping Jamaicans at Home (JAHJAH) Foundation. JAHJAH Foundation will provide ongoing monthly training in use of the Butterfly Monitors, consultations and case review sessions that will sharpen the skills and techniques of Jamaican clinicians