Royal Philips has launched their new ultra-mobile ultrasound system, VISIQ, to the South African market as part of a campaign to combat maternal deaths.

The VISIQ system is the size of a tablet and is approximately ten times smaller than a traditional ultrasound machine. It provides high quality images, is portable and easy to use, and is designed for expectant mothers in remote areas who wouldn’t otherwise have access to this type of technology, or advanced care.

South Africa has cut maternal deaths from 189,5 per 100,000 births in 2009 to 132,9 per 100,000 in 2012/13. However, the country is still a long way from meeting the international commitment to cut maternal mortality to 38 deaths per 100,000 births by 2015 as part of the global Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

According to the Philips Fabric of Africa trends report, women in Africa are at significant risk of premature death, with particular high maternal mortality rates recorded in pregnancy. Women in semi-urban and rural areas across the continent often die due to preventable complications during child birth as they have no access to ultrasound screenings to detect critical conditions. Many of these deaths can be diagnosed with basic imaging technology, like the VISIQ ultrasound.

“Improving access to healthcare is high on the Philips agenda in Africa and we are very eager to contribute to improve access to quality care for all. VISIQ allows clinicians to provide ultrasound in a variety of clinical environments, offering soon-to-be parents the comfort of having regular pre-natal check-ups that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” said General Manager, Philips Healthcare Southern Africa, Jose Fernandes.

To date VISIQ has been launched in Kenya and Uganda. An official study conducted by The Ernest Cook Ultrasound Research and Education Institute (ECUREI) on the use of VISIQ found that it could be the answer to the outcry from low resourced countries for an ultrasound system that is high-quality, user-friendly, lightweight, easy to move from place to place, has a battery life of 2.5 hours, offers wireless connectivity to allow data transfer for consultation and eHealth, and is easily serviced.

In collaboration with the Rhiza Foundation and corporate social investment partners Nozala Trust and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Philips launched a Mobile Clinic in May 2015 to service the populous townships of Diepsloot, Cosmo City and Orange Farm, in Northern Johannesburg. Philips supplied all the technology present in the Mobile Clinic, including a VISIQ ultrasound machine.

“It makes me proud to see how Philips’ cost-effective, easy to operate ultrasound systems can make a real difference in South Africa. It shows that meaningful innovations can contribute to saving people’s lives,” concluded Fernandes.

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