30 April 2014: Inmarsat’s BGAN service is helping to tackle the high infant and maternal mortality rate in the Amazon where one in ten mothers and their babies die before their first birthday.
Inmarsat-sponsored aid agency Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) is using BGAN in the region’s first ever eHealth network.
The network allows health professionals to provide consistent pre-natal, birth and post-natal care at four isolated health centres – improving the diagnosis and care of around 40,000 indigenous mothers and their babies.
TSF installed the Cobham SATCOM Explorer 700 terminals after training technicians and health professionals at the health centres spread over the Rio Negro region in the north-west of the rainforest.
Using the terminals, midwives will be able to consult with other healthcare specialists at the main clinic in the town of São Gabriel da Cachoeira to remotely monitor and diagnose conditions.
TSF worked with Canadian non-government organisation (NGO) e-KSS and Brazilian NGO FOIRN (Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro), which defends indigenous people’s rights.
Once the eHealth network is established, TSF and e-KSS will start a pilot project to collect data on infant and maternal mortality for FOIRN’s own health databank.
The information will then be used by FOIRN to improve treatment received by mothers and their babies and reduce the high infant and maternal mortality rates caused by the lack of access to basic healthcare.
Although the network is controlled by TSF, it will be autonomously maintained by FOIRN workers in the field.
“Many are shocked to learn that in the Amazon, over 10 babies of every 100 born die,” said Jean-François Cazenave, TSF President.
“It is an unfortunate fact that mothers often suffer the same fate. This startling mortality rate is due to a lack of the basic pre and postnatal healthcare to which every human should have the right.
“At TSF, we are dedicated to working alongside the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, an ethic which is reflected in our duty to adapt telecommunications material to humanitarian needs.
“Thanks to Inmarsat, TSF has been able to implement this telehealth network at the heart of the Amazon rainforest, allowing auxiliary health workers not only to carry out remote consultations, but also to undertake vital data collection in the hope of ultimately reducing that mortality rate that’s devastating indigenous communities.”