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Centre for Global Child Health

The Fetal Heart Monitor Project – Human Energy to Save Lives

Principal Investigator: Dr. Diego G. Bassani , Epidemiologist and Scientist at the Centre for Global Child Health, Department of Paediatrics and Research Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Assistant Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.


Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe. Dr. Bassani demonstrates the human-powered fetal heart monitor to Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary-General and Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization.

Fetal heart monitoring has been identified as a top research priority to reduce deaths from birth asphyxia by 2015. A partnership between Canadian and African researchers tested an innovative, life-saving, low-cost, human-powered fetal heart monitor on pregnant women in Uganda.

The crank-operated mechanism was tested in two sites in Uganda. One minute of winding can power 10 minutes of monitoring and is based on the idea that medical devices in developing countries must be rugged, reliable and not dependent on electricity.

Research teams are now looking to investigate the scale-up of this intervention.