Chindeum Okoro is a medical imaging technologist in Nigeria, specializing in Ultrasound imaging. Mr. Okoro’s work takes him throughout rural areas and villages in Nigeria, where he performs ultrasound imaging on pregnant women without accessible medical resources. This job has led Mr. Okoro to develop the Rescue Mother and Child initiative, born out of the alarming rate of increase in maternal and child mortality in Nigeria. Rescue Mother and Child is a program seeking support in the training of medical staff in obs-gyn and emergency ultrasound to help diagnose life threatening complications in pregnant women and girls at an early enough stage for intervention.
Mr. Okoro began this initiative after experiencing firsthand the tragedy caused by lack of appropriate imaging services in his community. Mr. Okoro was sent to scan a women who had been diagnosed with a miscarriage, with persisting symptoms three days after doctors had performed a uterine evacuation on the patient. Upon ultrasound examination, it was discovered that the women had been misdiagnosed, and had been suffering from a leaking ectopic pregnancy, which had now ruptured. The patient passed away before being able to receive emergency surgery for her condition. Tragedies such as this are occurring daily in Nigeria, and are even more horrific when acknowledging that it’s the lack of access to ultrasound technology that’s responsible for so many preventable deaths of mothers and children. Mr. Okoro’s mission to make an impact on improving the wellbeing and livelihood of his community was developed from his patient’s story, which remains his inspiration and motivation for his work in the Rescue Mother and Child project.
Chindehum Okoro outlines the issues and goals of the Rescue Mother and Child initiative:
To promote education, training, and the availability of ultrasound in remote/rural communities where it is been underutilized, with the aim of contributing a significant quota in reducing maternal and child mortality rate to its barest minimum in Imo State, Nigeria, through synergistic partnership with ultrasound manufacturers, international and local organizations, and government agencies.
The joy that every expectant couple, family, or community has when a woman gets pregnant is suddenly turned into sorrow and mourning when the woman or baby dies during pregnancy or childbirth.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the five major causes of maternal mortality are hemorrhage, sepsis, complications of abortion, eclampsia, and obstructed labor.
The World Health Organization similarly lists the most common causes of neonatal mortality as infections, birth asphyxia, birth injuries, preterm birth and birth defects. It is worth noting that these mortality causes are conditions for which timely ultrasound imaging could be of immense help in early diagnosis and hence intervention, leading to the reduction of mortality rates among mothers and their babies.
It is also notable that most of these avoidable deaths (99%) occur in developing countries where ultrasound is currently underutilized and financial constraints with lack of manpower has been cited as the main reason.
However, the usefulness of ultrasound imaging in preventing these needless deaths has not been fully exploited. It is anticipated that low resource settings could benefit by prudent application of this modern technology, which is relatively affordable and widely available.
BURDEN FOR THE PROJECT:
In contrast to childbearing in industrialized nations, pregnancy and childbirth remain perilous in the developing world. Almost all (99%) of the 536,000 maternal deaths estimated for 2005 by the World Health Organization occurred in the developing world. With an estimated 608 deaths per 100,000 deliveries, Nigeria ranks second only to India in the list of nations with the worst child mortality.
According to Women Health and Action Research Centre, out of 100,000 women that enter labor rooms, 50 of them do not come out alive. For every woman or girl who dies as a result of pregnancy related causes, between 20 and 30 more will develop short and long-term disabilities, such as obstetric fistula, a ruptured uterus, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate continues at an unacceptable high level. While maternal mortality figures vary widely by source and are highly controversial, the best estimates for Nigeria suggests that approximately 54,000 women and girls die each year due to pregnancy-related complications.
Mr. Okoro refers to this as the maiden project, believing it will spread throughout all of Nigeria, and the African continent.
Currently, the following organizations are involved in contributing to the project:
Sonostar Technologies (China)
Mindray Medicals (China)
Image Diagnostics (Nigeria)
Medic-ER Technology (Nigeria)
Women’s Health and Action Resource Centre
Maternal Mortality in Developing Countries: challenges in scaling up priority interventions, Women's Health (2010) 6(2), 311–327
Improving Birth Outcomes: Meeting the Challenges in the Developing World, By Judith Bale, Barbara Stoll, Adetokunbo Lucas, Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Committee on Improving Birth Outcomes, 2003.
The Role of Obstetric Ultrasound in Reducing Maternal and Perinatal Mortality, By Yaw Amo Wiafe, Alexander T. Odoi and Edward T. Dassah, Ultrasound Imaging - Medical Applications, 2011