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Digital Health improving neonatal care

By Andrew Magombo

Lilongwe, Mana:  As the country keeps aspiring to go digital in delivery of social services; it has emerged that the newly introduced software for neonatal, NeoTree application, is already making positive strides in the health system.

This was revealed on Thursday at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe by Director of Quality Management in the Ministry of Health, Dr Joshua Matias, during an exhibition of art by women who were sharing their communal experiences before and after the birth of their babies.

Dr Matias said the NeoTree app which was deployed at Ethel Mutharika Nursery Unit, Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in April 2019, has replaced the traditional paper admissions and discharge forms in a bid to improve health care delivery.

He added that with universal health coverage being key priority among Sustainable Development Goals, the ministry has embarked on improving quality of health services by going digital.

Principal Investigator in the NeoTree Program, Dr Msandeni Chiume Kayuni

He said: “In universal health coverage, we need to make sure that services being provided are adequately and according to standards. This is where we talk of quality care, adhering to required standards and making sure clients/patients are happy with the services.”

“One way of ensuring quality standards is through real-time data collection. With this program of NeoTree, treatment is faster and accurate, the information is not lost and it improves interactions between mothers and medical personnel.”

Dr Matias said the program is running solely at KCH due to resource challenges but electronic recording and provision of care for other diseases like HIV, Hypertension, Diabetes and TB is also underway in different public hospitals.

In her remarks, Principal Investigator of NeoTree program, Dr. Msandeni Chiume Kayuni, said the application has proved to be a reliable decision maker since its inception.

She further said that the program has greatly reduced neonatal deaths when it was found that many babies succumb to hypothermia during transition from the labour theatre to the wards due to lack of warmth.

“When we found an increase in cases of hypothermia, we found that referred babies from communities were not at risk as compared to those who are born in the hospitals.”

“Through analysis of the collected data, the app helped us in coming up with relevant health prescriptions critical for both the mother and the newborn as such number of cases and fatalities have greatly decreased.”

However, one beneficiary of the project, Ellen Howa, said the ministry of Health should embark on awareness campaigns because many women are not aware of the technology hence giving them a wrong perception that the medical attendants waste time on their smartphones.

Funded by Wellcome Trust, the NeoTree Project is a University College London Project being run in partnership with Kamuzu Central Hospital and ArtGlo.