Fabric of Africa

The women of  Africa

Powerfree Education Technology

About PowerFree Education Technology (PET)

A focus on infant mortality prevention
A significant number of infants, especially in under-resourced settings across Africa, die during labor or suffer brain injury due to an inadequate supply of oxygen. Using a Doppler ultrasound monitor that helps midwives and nurses monitor the baby’s wellbeing during labor could prevent many of these deaths¹.


Yet current methods to measure the fetal heart rate are either expensive or rely on replaceable batteries or electricity to run. The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is specially designed to address this situation.

The challenge
It is critical to keep a close watch on fetal heart rate during labor. A slowing of the heart rate towards the end of a uterine contraction is an important indicator the fetus is in distress. If this is detected early enough, a midwife or delivering nurse can take the necessary actions to save the child.


However, limited resources in rural areas and the lack of devices that can run off the grid hinder this life-saving procedure. Midwives and nurses must often listen to the heartbeat using a fetal stethoscope while counting the number of heartbeats per minute – challenging under any circumstance.


Designed for low-resource settings
The Wind-up Doppler Ultrasound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor (or Wind-up Fetal Doppler) is not reliant on battery or electricity. The brainchild of PowerFree Education Technology (PET), a South Africa based not-for-profit organization, Wind-up Fetal Doppler is an example of their mission to develop essential power-independent medical devices for frontline workers in low- and middle-income countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa.


The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is a device that counts the fetal heart rate while the mother is in labor. PET has spent years testing this hand-cranked device in Uganda and results are promising. The response from midwives and caregivers in the field has been very positive.


Philips Africa Innovation Hub
We are partnering with PET to commercialize the Wind-Up Fetal Doppler. This process is taking place in our Africa Innovation Hub located in Nairobi, Kenya where we focus on developing innovations created “in Africa for Africa.” We have unveiled an initial prototype, which is currently undergoing clinical testing in advance of regulatory approval and general release.


Forward together
Philips and PET are strongly aligned in the mission to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation. PET has invested years in the development of the Wind-up Fetal Doppler. We will use our strength as a market leader in healthcare to make it available and affordable to a broad based of rural caregivers across the African continent.


Our collaboration with PET on the Wind-up Fetal Doppler is another example of our commitment to reducing infant mortality and improving maternal health in Africa.

¹ Intrapartum-Related Deaths: Evidence for Action in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics Volume 107, Supplement (October 2009).


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