*Y.C.* One laptop per midwife

*Y.C.* One laptop per midwife

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Project Summary
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Several reports have shown that every day about1500 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. A total of 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries, where 85% of the population lives. Although there are intra and inter regional variations in the reasons for such high maternal mortality rates in these countries, lack of access to good quality midwifery services appears to be a universal problem. Data shows that on average, 62% of women in developing countries receive assistance from a skilled health worker when giving birth. Even in the presence of trained midwives, however, many women do not use services because they do not like how care is provided or because the health services are not delivering high-quality care.

Studies have also shown that most maternal deaths are avoidable simply because most of the health care solutions in preventing or managing the complications of maternal mortality are well established. The leading causes of maternal mortality common to all developing countries include severe bleeding (mostly bleeding postpartum), infections (also mostly soon after delivery), hypertensive disorders in pregnancy (eclampsia) and obstructed labor. In addition to this, complications after unsafe abortion cause 13% of maternal deaths. It has been stated that about 80% of maternal deaths are due to these causes. Other indirect causes that constitute 20% of maternal death are diseases that complicate pregnancy or are worsened by pregnancy, such as malaria, anemia and HIV. Since all of the above mentioned complications are not predictable, all women need care from skilled health professionals, especially at birth, when access to good quality treatment services can make the difference between life and death.

The main objective of this project is therefore to create educational opportunities for midwives in the world's poorest countries with high maternal and child mortality rates. The project will primarily focus on incorporating information and communication technology to improve overall maternal health in one of the poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa hard-hit by an extremely high rate of maternal mortality (1,107 per 100,000 live births)- the Sudan. Several studies including one conducted by the World Bank have established a positive correlation between improved information and communication technology and accessibility. For example, in Ghana the use of a low-cost portable technology such as cell phones played a pivotal role resulting dramatic decline in maternal deaths.

This project will focus on providing a low-cost, low-power robust laptops to midwives in Sudan. Certainly, providing midwives with a sturdy, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop will create an environment where by midwives are engaged in a collaborative, self-empowered learning and communication. When midwives have access to this type of tool they can get engaged in the most up-to-date state of the art about midwifery. They can learn, share, create, and collaborate among themselves. In this manner, they become connected not only to each other but also to the world. This will empower midwives in developing countries to have access to new information giving them an opportunity to develop and share their skills, access to vast amounts of information, connect with each other as well as with other parts of the world. This will have a significant contribution towards the development of highly qualified practitioners of midwifery and improved primary healthcare services.
Using a similar approach used in “One laptop per child” (i.e. the XO laptops), the idea is to introduce midwives with a specially designed to provide an engaging wireless network. These laptops connected to others nearby automatically will have a significant contribution in sharing information. Midwives in the nearby health facilities can permanently be connected to chat, sharing information on the local network or web. Like the XO laptops these can be designed to be charged by solar or mechanical power or through special bulk-chargers making the use of these laptops easier for midwives in a community to connect to one another almost anywhere. This will also create a new learning environment beyond the walls of classrooms.
The recent surge in availability of information technology such as mobile phones and internet access in Africa has prompted considerable enthusiasm regarding the use of these technologies for various activities. Many countries in Africa are successfully implementing the use information technology for almost everything from marketing and e-commerce to tracking crop diseases and reminding HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis patients to take their medicine. In the Sudan, the use of information technology has become very important and can be characterized as one of the fastest growing innovations not only in Africa but worldwide. Reports indicate that over 80 % of Sudan’s one million square mile is covered with wireless telephone services. Major cities such as Khartoum, Medani, Port Sudan and Juba are well covered by Third Generation (3G) internet services. These conditions provide an ideal environment for a successful implementation of one laptop per midwife project in the Sudan.

Ohio University in collaboration with Ahfad University for Women in Sudan is currently in the process of a capacity building program in the area of maternal and child health in Sudan. Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman, Sudan will be the leading international partner for this project. The institute has over a 100 year history of education for girls and women in Sudan. Over the past few years the institute has developed special emphasis on health issues, particularly women's health in the entire Sudan, including Darfur and the South, and has had years of project work and student participation in and from those two regions. One aspect of the collaborative capacity building program constitutes the development of innovative instructional technology for MCH training such as interactive video and web-based conferencing, web-based training, computer-based training, and audio conferencing. The existence of this collaborative project provides an ideal environment for a successful implementation of the one laptop for child project. The presence of a network of literate midwives who work closely with faculty and staff at Ahfad will also play an important role in facilitating the implementation of this project. Faculty and Staff at Ahfad University for Women will be the major stakeholders in the development and provision of training on the use of the laptops. Subsequently, those trained midwives will be responsible in providing training to their colleagues. Such a collaborative effort will not only improve the current maternal mortality rates but will also play a significant role in improvement in the quality of MCH care and MCH data reporting.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Sudan is one of the world's least successful example of reaching global improvements in maternal mortality. Among the reasons for the state of maternal mortality in Sudan include lack of skilled birth attendants.
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African Health Initiative
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African Health Initiative


, OH

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African Health Initiative

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56 E. Union St. Athens Ohio 45701

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, OH

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What makes your idea unique?

Improving and investing the health of mothers could have a lasting impact in the world's poorest countries. Given the opportunity and resources, this program has a great potential in averting mortality and morbidity in the worlds a poorest countries. Since most of the complications related to maternal mortality occur at any time during pregnancy or childbirth without forewarning, timely access to and use of quality obstetric services is essential. Studies have shown that if women have access to basic maternal health services, 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented. Providing midwives with tools and information plays an important role in this process. The "one laptop per midwife" is unique simply because it indirectly emphasizes the importance of improvement in local healthcare, training and education of midwives in essential obstetrics as well as improving quality of antenatal care. It is also unique because with availability of communication technology midwives in rural areas can have access to experts and other professionals without leaving their locations. As such, it will play a significant role in reduction of maternal mortality among rural and marginal communities.

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What impact have you had?

Currently Ohio University's African Health Initiative joins with its long-established partner institutions Al Ahfad University for Women in Sudan and Bayero University Kano in Nigeria to promote higher education innovation in the improvement of teaching to save lives of women and children. Across Africa's extensive Islamic belt the circumstances surrounding child birth are dramatically more challenging than those elsewhere on the continent due to a number of factors that includes lack lack of access to education for girls and women.Our project is investigating the possibilities of collaboration through capacity building exercises and technological innovation to share teaching and consultation through internet-based platforms. The one laptop per child project will be incorporated as part of this overall effort.


The project follows a purely participatory approach to improve the above mentioned needs. As such we have identified individuals from partner institutions to work with us in every aspect of this program. Ohio University is a leader in research and teaching for public and community health, in the study of Islamic Africa as well as in technological innovation for teaching. Similarly Ahfad University for women in Omdurman, Sudan has developed a special emphasis on health issues, particularly women's health. The School of Health Sciences, and out project partner Dr. Nafisa Bedri, work on issues tying health education, management and policy to specific issues in reproductive health and nutrition, improving the access that all of Sudan's women have to these important areas of information.


By creating a maternal health centered public health program, this project aims at reducing maternal mortality. The use of information technology will also have an extraordinary impact on the quality of maternal care but will aslo improve learning.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

In the first year the success of this project will depend on the nature and organization of maternal health care in Sudan. Effective partnership with professionals in the area, policy makers as well as educational institutions will have a significant role in the success of this project.

In the second year such partnership can be extended to other stakeholders including local and international non-governmental organization that work in similar areas.

In the third year support from the general public will have a significant effect on this project.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of financial sustainability along with other factors such as lack receptiveness towards information and communication based learning may hamper this project.

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What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

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What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

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How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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We anticipate active support from our partners to successfully implement our programs.

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The Story
What was the defining moment that you led to this innovation?

High number of maternal and child mortality rates in the Sahel region of Africa.

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