June 22, 2024 | 3 minute read

Philips North America ultrasound donation supports MedShare’s Georgia Safe Birth Initiative

Maternal and child health has long been a programmatic priority for MedShare. So much so, in 2017 MedShare partnered with The Coca-Cola Company to help address the root causes of maternal and infant mortality globally through the creation of the Safe Birth Initiative (SBI). With a focus on strengthening the capacity of maternity and neonatal units in select public hospitals in developing countries where maternal and infant mortality rates remained alarmingly high, MedShare provided critical medical supplies and equipment that bolstered fragile healthcare systems in countries like Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Thanks in part to SBI and other global initiatives aimed at increasing access to better maternal care in these and other health-challenged communities, mortality rates have dropped significantly, though they are still among the highest in the world.

Given these extensive learning opportunities abroad, MedShare adapted SBI to also support underserved communities within the United States – primarily through free and charitable clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) that serve the millions of low-income Americans who are uninsured and underinsured.

While the United States has also seen declines in maternal and infant mortality rates over the past several decades, our country’s maternal mortality rate is the highest of any developed nation in the world and more than double the rate of peer countries. And while most pregnancy-related deaths are considered preventable, pregnancy complications and infant mortality – as with all social determinants of health – continue to be exacerbated by existing structural inequities, including access to healthcare, affordable insurance, transportation, language, and cultural barriers.

MedShare and partners such as Philips North America continue to address birth equity challenges and strengthen care in underserved communities, helping to provide these clinics access to state-of-the-art technology and training that they might otherwise be able to afford – helping to improve clinical outcomes, enhance patient care, and of course, reduce clinic costs.

One such clinic resides in the city of Clarkston, Georgia – often referred to as “the most diverse square mile in America” and “the Ellis Island of the South” due to its rich multicultural fabric. There, MedShare partner Ethne Health Clinic stands as a beacon of health and hope to residents from various ethnic backgrounds who communicate in over 42 languages – regardless of insurance or their ability to pay.

Having supported Ethne since its founding in 2018, MedShare is committed to helping meet the needs of this critical community resource. Just last week, after the clinic’s ultrasound equipment became inoperable, MedShare installed and trained clinicians on an upgraded diagnostic ultrasound machine, generously donated by Philips. Designed to enhance imaging accuracy and performance, the Philips ultrasound machine will enhance clinicians’ ability to make confident diagnoses, whether in routine exams or complex cases.

Another recent recipient of a Philips ultrasound machine was Healing Community Center, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) in Atlanta that breaks down economic, language, cultural, and geographic barriers that have long hindered healthcare access in the community it serves. The ultrasound will further enhance the diagnostic services provided through the clinic’s Women’s Health program.

The MedShare and Philips partnership is based on the core belief that – from seeing their babies for the first time on an ultrasound through giving birth – all moms deserve the same kind of maternity experience, prenatal care and state-of-the-art health technologies as those who have access to private health systems.

While free and charitable clinics combine resourcefulness, volunteer efforts, and community support to try to bridge the technology gap and provide quality care despite financial constraints, with 80% of free and charitable clinics in the United States experiencing an increase in patient demand despite overall decreases in funding, our continued support is more critical than ever.

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