Critical Phase for Mother & Child Healthcare Program in Ethiopia

A € 262,000 project involving the JKU aims to improve healthcare for mothers and children in Ethiopia.

Photo credit: Sametinger

48 out of every one thousand infants die in Africa during the first week of life (in Austria: 1.7 out of one thousand). A quarter of women between the ages of 14 and 49 die from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth. The biggest problem is a lack of medical care, which the the OeAD (Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research), the Institute of Business Computer Science (JKU), and the Kepler University Hospital aim to counteract.

Information via Tablets and Mobile Phones
The project takes advantage of the fact that Ethopia has a well-established communications (phone and internet) network. Project manager a.Univ. Prof. Dr. Johannes Sametinger remarked, “We can use this to our advantage to send information to patients about continual education courses, to connect caregivers, and to summarize patient information.” The IT infrastructure has been set up over the past year and the implementation phase can begin: Over 300 mobile phones and tablets were distributed in the pilot area to pregnant women, young mothers, and health workers, who are often the only medically trained contact persons.

Prof. Sametinger added, “Now we can use various software applications that we developed and tested last year as part of the project. We will evaluate the results at the end of the year and compare them to a control group that does not have access to this information and this network. Then we’ll know if we are moving in the right direction and what it is we still need to do.”

Science and Practice
The OeAD has made € 262,000 available for the project for a three-year period. The program is not only a development aid project, but takes research aspects and sustainability into account and considers these aspects equally important. The project management team at the JKU is working closely together with the Kepler University Hospital and the University of Addis Abeba. The team not only carries out training, surveys and tests, but also implements the software locally in the national language.