The Safe Delivery App supports skilled birth attendants to stay updated during COVID-19

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In India, skilled birth attendants are using Maternity Foundation’s Safe Delivery App to prepare themselves and their labour wards to provide safer births for mothers and their newborns during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Anna Frellsen, CEO of Maternity Foundation

Even prior to the covid-19 pandemic, health care workers in India, as in many settings, struggled to access the latest evidence-based medical guidelines. When our team at Maternity Foundation traveled across the country earlier this year, we heard this time and time again from staff nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators — for instance from staff nurse Barti Sinha at Chrama Community Health Center in Chhattisgarh state: “Before the Safe Delivery App, we used to all have different practices; we had studied different places and learned in different ways.”

The Safe Delivery App is a smartphone application developed by Maternity Foundation in partnership with Universities of Copenhagen and Southern Denmark. It uses simple, intuitive animated instruction videos, quizzes, descriptions of practical procedures and drug list to guide healthcare workers in the most common childbirth and neonatal emergencies. Since the Government of India in partnership with Maternity Foundation introduced the Safe Delivery App as a training and job aid to skilled birth attendants across India in 2017, Almost 90,000 health workers have downloaded the App, meaning they now have access to updated national guidelines to support them in their work — no matter where or when they went to school:
“All the young nurses who come here know the latest procedures and guidelines, and I used to struggle to keep up. But now I know too. I’m updated about all the latest knowledge through the Safe Delivery App, and now I’m on the same level as them. You’re never too old to learn,” Rajinder Kaur, nursing sister at Mata Kaushalya Government Hospital in Patiyala, Punjab says.

Covid-19 support straight from the pocket
The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the need for access to the latest guidelines in real time, as new evidence emerges rapidly, protocols change day to day and myths are ramped. Anita Sharma, a nursing officer based at the Mohali District Hospital in the state of Punjab, describes how vital it was for her and her team to have tools to guide them in how to handle their first covid-19 case.

“When the first case of Covid-19 was documented in the district of Mohali back in March, there was just one private hospital taking covid-19 patients. That changed in July, when we were presented with a number of labouring mothers who were Covid-19 positive. Rather than turn them away, we used the Safe Delivery App, which we already had on our phone, and our knowledge from the government’s training program program, to guide us through what to do,”

says Anita Sharma. The team at Mohali District Hospital quickly created a separate labor ward specifically for mothers with covid-19, and carefully followed infection prevention protocols. This was an achievement for all the staff, but it was also a wake-up call that they needed to be more prepared for future cases that would inevitably come. Since then, they created a separate labour ward and nursing room for women that have covid-19, a separate room for attendants, and are planning to create a NICU for babies born with covid-19.

Anita Sharma says she and her colleagues continue to use the Safe Delivery App to manage complications during pregnancy and handle infection prevention. We can see from our data, that the Covid-19 module in the Safe Delivery App is being downloaded and used widely in the several language- and country versions of the app that is being used across African and Asian countries. This suggests that skilled birth attendants, just like Anita, are hungry for information and eager to improve their knowledge on how to provide quality maternal care during the corona pandemic — and that the Safe Delivery App is an effective and user-friendly way to get it.

Views expressed in this publication are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Paris Peace Forum.

Anna Frellsen has been the CEO of Maternity Foundation since 2013. During her leadership, Maternity Foundation has established itself as a well-respected player on the global maternal health scene. Among her responsibilities, Anna has led the scale-up of Maternity Foundation’s mobile health solutions, including the Safe Delivery App, which is now used in more than 40 countries. Anna holds an MBA from IESE and has more than 15 years of business experience within strategy, marketing and general management. She has worked as the CEO for a small start-up, as a partner with KPMG Strategy, and she spent more than seven years with McKinsey & Company. She started her career working in the pharmaceutical industry in the US and the UK. In addition to her position with the Maternity Foundation, she is the Vice-Chair at the NGO Break The Silence and sits on the board of Ovacure, the William Demant Foundation, and CfL (Danish Management Center).

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