• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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Google unveils tool to assess how quick women find obstetric care

Google unveils tool to assess how quick women find obstetric care

Decision makers can get clearer insights on the time it costs expectant mothers to find the nearest obstetric care around them during an emergency, using a new geographic tool developed by Google.

The tool uses Google’s internal directions Application Programming Interface (API) to provide information on verified emergency obstetric centres across 15 cities and estimate the travel time to the nearest, second nearest and third nearest facilities.

The multinational technology company said the initiative developed in collaboration with OnTIME Consortium is part of its effort to help decision-makers, governments and public health organisations in Nigeria address the gaps in accessing health services where facilities are limited.

The tool can help decision makers with data on how quickly expectant mothers can access care in cities including Aba, Abuja, Benin City, Ibadan, Ilorin, Jos, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Maiduguri, Onitsha, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Uyo, and Warri.

It can also inform understanding of the need to expand ambulatory services, make road improvements, add new facilities or upgrade existing ones, and more.

“We are excited to collaborate with the OnTIME Consortium, a partnership of policymakers, doctors, and researchers focused on improving care for expecting mothers, to make this tool available to decision-makers in Nigeria”, Olumide Balogun, Google Nigeria, Interim Lead said in an official statement released Tuesday.

The company said the tool is modelled on a dataset it released in 2021 that revealed the average travel times to COVID-19 vaccination facilities.

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Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard School for Public Health in Massachusetts used that dataset to help identify “vaccine desserts” and inform vaccination efforts.

Google also collaborated with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to quantify geographic access to parks across nearly 500 metropolitan areas in six countries: Estonia, France, Greece, Mexico, Sweden, and the United States.

Approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day with more than 70 percent of these deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Nigeria contributes the most to global maternal health deaths, based on recent WHO estimates.

Using the information that will be gathered on the tool, decision-makers can expand ambulatory services, make road improvements, add new facilities or upgrade existing ones, and more.

Evidence shows that long travel times from home to a health facility significantly impact pregnancy outcomes for mothers and newborns, and timely access to emergency obstetric care (EmOC) can reduce maternal deaths and intrapartum stillbirths by as much as 50 percent and 75 percent, respectively, Google said.

But current approaches to estimating the time it takes expectant mothers to reach EmOC are limited.

“This digital dashboard will be a critical tool in the arsenal of service planners and policymakers looking at optimizing geographical accessibility to critical maternal health services as well as those keen to understand contributions of travel time to poor maternal and perinatal outcomes,” Aduragbemi Banke-Thomas, OnTIME Principal Investigator and Associate Professor of Maternal and Newborn Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said.