PeriWatch Vigilance Deployed in Malawi

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Dr. Jeff Wilkinson, Vice-Chair of Global Women's Health at Texas Children's Hospital on Friday, April 19, 2019, in Lilongwe, Malawi. ( Photo by Smiley N. Pool / © 2019 )

Texas Children’s Hospital and PeriGen Inc. have launched PeriWatch Vigilance, an AI-powered maternal-fetal monitoring system, in Malawi, Africa.

Maternal health refers to a woman’s health during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postnatal period. Although the number of maternal and child deaths have significantly decreased across the world, women and children in developing countries still face disproportionate inequalities in accessing healthcare. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 94% of maternal deaths worldwide occur in low- and middle-income countries. One of them being Malawi, Africa where for every 100,000 live births there are 400 maternal deaths. And for every 50 births, one baby in Malawi dies. To counter these challenges, a US-based children’s hospital and a perinatal software solutions company have launched the PeriWatch Vigilance system in Malawi.

PeriWatch Vigilance is an AI-powered maternal-fetal health monitoring system that can help track information for hundreds of patients, across different hospitals in the country. Through monitoring of various maternal and child health factors, the system will prevent complications during childbirth. Thus, acting as an early warning system and leading to timely interventions by clinicians.

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

Matt Sappern, CEO of Cary, North Carolina-based PeriGen

Bringing Technology to Under-Resourced Countries

While conducting fistula repair surgeries in Malawi, Dr. Jeff Wilkinson came across the poor maternal and child health outcomes in the region. As Vice-Chair of Global Women’s Health at Texas Children’s Hospital, he aimed to increase the level of care in the country.  

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.

Dr. Jeff Wilkinson, Vice-Chair of Global Women’s Health at Texas Children’s Hospital

First, fetal monitors, located at patients’ bedsides in Malawi, help collect vital information. The maternal and fetal data is then transmitted to a server in Houston running PeriGen’s AI analytics. The system then analyzes the information and sends back its assessment within seconds. Clinicians can access it directly from their mobile phones, tablets, or desktops.

The team has deployed the monitoring system at Area 25 hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. The hospital currently reports more than 7,000 births per year. This is the first time that such an advanced level of technology has been implemented in the continent. Researchers believe it will help reduce neonatal mortality and prevent stillbirths in the region.

Source: PeriGen Inc.

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