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Maternal and neonatal care in Malawi revolutionised through AI



Revolutionary AI-based maternal and neonatal care is being introduced in Malawi through a new private-public partnership. 

Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, alongside PeriGen Advanced Perinatal Software, working with Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation-Malawi, and Malawi Ministry of Health (Area 25), are bringing the PeriWatch Vigilance programme to Lilongwe. 

The PeriWatch Vigilance mobile solution, provided at no cost by PeriGen, provides one of the most sophisticated fetal monitoring systems to one of the most under-resourced areas of the world to help clinicians reduce stillbirths and neonatal mortality rates.

In Malawi, the fourth poorest country in the world, for every 100,000 live births there are 400 maternal deaths and for every 50 births, Malawi loses one baby.

“In the U.S. alone, close to half of the unfavourable outcomes in childbirth are preventable and involve non-standard assessments of foetal monitor data, risks that PeriGen directly mitigates,” said Matthew Sappern, CEO of PeriGen. 

“But this is a universal challenge, without artificial borders of nation or region, and PeriGen and Texas Children’s demonstrate in Malawi that even the most advanced medical support can be delivered efficiently and effectively around the globe.”

PeriWatch Vigilance is an automated early warning system and clinical decision support tool, designed to enhance clinical efficiency, timely intervention, and standardisation of care. The FDA-cleared system can track vital information for hundreds of patients at a time, across multiple hospital sites. 

Using AI and other analytical techniques, it continuously monitors maternal vital signs, foetal heart rate, contractions, and labor progression, providing results graphically and with percentiles. Because of this continuous monitoring, PeriWatch Vigilance can detect abnormalities during labor and immediately notify clinicians.

As the Vice Chair of Global Women’s Health at Texas Children’s, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson discovered the harsh reality of maternal mortality, stillbirths, and early neonatal deaths in Malawi.

“The high mortality rate coupled with even higher birth rates meant that many of the newborns needed a high level of care that was historically unattainable,” says Dr Wilkinson. 

“With the arrival of the PeriWatch Vigilance program, Malawi and Texas Children’s clinicians will be able to further enhance the level of care and safety provided to mothers and babies. We believe this groundbreaking technology, once foreign to sub-Saharan Africa, will help to reduce the number of Malawian babies that die during labor and delivery.”

Soon, clinicians will have the ability to access the maternal-foetal early warning system directly from all major devices including desktops, tablets, and mobile phones. This mobile solution allows for Early Warning System notifications 24/7, unit oversight and consultation to each patient’s bedside team so clinicians can quickly review trends from hours of tracings and receive a consolidated overview at their fingertips.

“We’ve begun performing continuous PeriGen monitoring in collaboration with our Ministry of Health colleagues and on most of our patients in Malawi and have seen an incredible receptiveness of this new technology on the part of the obstetrics providers,” says Dr Wilkinson. 

“Our leadership team of Drs. Ibe Iwuh and Chikhondi Chiweza and midwife Rachel Macleod have helped spearhead the project. We think the system has prevented some stillbirths and allowed us to intervene early to prevent birth asphyxia in some cases. Though the long-term trends remain to be seen, we are optimistic about the difference implementing this technology will make.

“The setup and implementation of PeriWatch in Malawi, the fourth poorest country in the World, has been smoother than expected. The uptake of the technology by our local maternity providers has been excellent. 

“We have already seen results that strongly suggest a trend towards decreased stillbirth and neonatal death. We are thrilled to have the system up and running and plan to expand it to all of our labour rooms in the next two months, effectively covering all 7,000 births per year.”


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