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The Health Show: Revolutionizing Prenatal Care in Developing Countries
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The Health Show: Revolutionizing Prenatal Care in Developing Countries
Health Show host Dr. Ayan Panja interviews Professor John Wyatt, inventor of a fetal heart rate monitor that is powered by a hand crank and can be used in contexts where electricity is unavailable.
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Produced by Rockhopper TV.

Originally broadcast as part of The Health Show.

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Segment 1

DR. AYAN PANJA
Pregnancy always involves some risk. But it can be much more dangerous in certain places. In the least well-off parts of the world, mothers are over forty times more likely to die, compared with mothers in Europe or America. And the risks for their babies are just as worrying. Professor John Wyatt is here with us. What's your concern here?
PROF. JOHN WYATT [Neonatologist, University College London]
Childbirth is always a dangerous time for the baby, but it's particularly so in low-resource countries across the world. Up to a million babies a year die, particularly because of a shortage of oxygen and other problems during the process of delivery. One of the most important things is to be able to measure the baby's heart rate during labor. And in the West, this is done using handheld devices that use Doppler ultrasound, and which are usually either mains powered, or use replacement batteries. The problem is that in low-resource countries, often it just isn't possible to have a reliable mains supply, and often replacement batteries are not available.
DR. AYAN PANJA
So what have you come up with?
PROF. JOHN WYATT
Well, the idea is to use the same kind of principle that's used in wind-up radios to generate electricity actually for this medical equipment. And so by winding, simply by winding, we generate electricity, enough to be able to then take a measurement using this Doppler ultrasound probe, which can then listen to the baby's heart.
DR. AYAN PANJA
Fantastic. Do you mind if I have a go? We've got a patient here, so. Thank you very much; I'm looking forward to using this. Hi. Nice to meet you, I'm Ayan.
CLAIRE
I'm Claire.
DR. AYAN PANJA
Claire, thank you for coming in. Do you mind if I have a listen in?
CLAIRE
Yeah, sure.
DR. AYAN PANJA
That'd be brilliant. How many weeks are you?
CLAIRE
28.
DR. AYAN PANJA
28. Fantastic. First baby?
CLAIRE
Yes.
DR. AYAN PANJA
We'll just wind this up. Brilliant, green light's on, so that should work. Just pump a little bit of gel on there. Lovely. All right. Switch it on. Sounds like a pretty strong heartbeat to me. Perfect. Thank you very much. That was brilliant. Good luck.
CLAIRE
Thanks.
DR. AYAN PANJA
So that was exactly like the probe that I use in my own surgery. Very, very good, it works really well. What have other health workers said about this?
PROF. JOHN WYATT
Well, we've done this trial among some health workers, particularly in southern Africa, and so far I've had very positive responses. Midwives in particular have been very positive about this, and in one clinic where this was being used, the midwives were very reluctant to hand it back because it was such a useful piece of kit, and they preferred it compared to the battery operated devices that they had.
DR. AYAN PANJA
Professor Wyatt, thank you very much.