PeriWatch Vigilance programMalawi, a landlocked yet welcoming and beautiful country, is one of the poorest countries in the world. In Malawi, 50.7% of the population lives below the poverty line, and one of the leading causes of this is poor access to healthcare. On June 24, 2021, the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women announced the commencement of the PeriWatch Vigilance program in Malawi. This program has the capabilities to improve maternal health, lives of children and poverty in Malawi.

What is the PeriWatch Vigilance Program?

This program is a partnership between multiple foundations, ministries and companies to provide fetal monitoring systems at no cost to Malawi health facilities. Partners of the program include the Texas Children’s Global Women’s Health Program, Area 25 Malawi Ministry of Health, Baylor College of Medicine Children’s Foundation in Malawi and PeriGen.

The program’s ultimate goal is to assist doctors in reducing neonatal deaths and maternal deaths. The PeriWatch Vigilance tool has clearance from the FDA and has many key features. The tool:

  • Improves timeliness and accessibility to care
  • Tracks and manages crucial patient information between numerous hospitals
  • Records heart rate, labor progression and contraction statistics of mothers
  • Notifies doctors about any irregularities in vital signs

The PeriWatch Vigilance program in Malawi will allow for more successful births and hospital stays for mothers, children and doctors.

Hope for Malawian Mothers and Children

In Malawi, 400 mothers die per 100,000 births, and one in 50 babies die. At the Area 25 Malawi Ministry of Health, more than 7,000 births occur each year. This number is comparable to the number of births per year at the Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. However, Malawi has not had the technology to provide a safe labor and delivery experience. With the PeriWatch Vigilance program in Malawi, the well-being of mothers and children will now be at the forefront of healthcare centers. The artificial intelligence tool will provide doctors with crucial warnings, vitals and statistics all through mobile devices.

This quick access will give doctors an advanced warning of any possible maternal or fetal danger. It will also allow healthcare workers to keep watch over the whole unit compared to just a few patients. In addition, clinicians can now spend more time caring for patients, as PeriWatch Vigilance calculates data and measures statistics through its secure data system and technology. The program has recently kicked off, but in the short term it has been running, there has already been a decline in the neonatal mortality rate. Within the next two months, the leadership team hopes to have PeriWatch available for all 7,000 yearly births.

Long-Term Effects

The decline of maternal and fetal deaths in Malawi can create vast improvement for the overall health and wellness of the country. As neonatal disorder cases decrease, poverty rates will consequently follow this decline. When a child is born prematurely or is not healthy, this can impact the rest of their life. They can face neurological and physical damage, preventing them from receiving proper education or going to work. These potential complications will only promote poverty.

On the other hand, neonatal and maternal mortality presents another set of problems for poverty. There is a lack of confidence in the healthcare system in areas with high poverty. This uncertainty creates a fear of survival during and after labor and delivery, leading families to have more and more children. This cycle leads to overpopulation and an increase in poverty as more children are born into a country that cannot yet provide for them.

The PeriWatch Vigilance program in Malawi is helping to assist with safer practices, better care and more advanced technology that will keep both the child and mother safe and confident throughout all stages of birthing. This program will give Malawi the chance to improve healthcare, save lives and ultimately fight poverty.

– Delaney Gilmore
Photo: Flickr