Q&A with Mamadou Houdy Bah

  • Name Doctor Mamadou Houdy Bah
  • Country Guinea
  • Title Regional Director of Health
  • Organization Labé region

Project zone for the Safe Delivery App 2016-2017 with the Danish Red Cross

Q: What did you think about the Safe Delivery App project in Guinea?

A: First of all, this app really seduced me because of its practicality. We have done so many trainings here in Labé at the maternity ward, and we have distributed so many documents. But when I saw the app, I thought it was so adapted, because it’s something that everyone uses today. You know, phones here, they have become a companion. Everywhere you go, you have your phone. So if the phone can help you to learn something, that is a plus. And therefore I appreciate it. In the app I have seen that all the BEmONC functions, that we teach our health workers, are there. So it’s a tool that every health worker should have with him or her. And the doctor, the midwife and the community health assistant. It works like a reminder, and all you have to do is to take your telephone, open it, interrogate and find what you need to remind yourself of what you have learned.

It’s a companion that can assist you even in the most distant villages, when you have a difficult task, you can use the app. I appreciate the app because our trainings are not complete and with the app the health worker in question has something that accompanies him every day.

Q: Why do you think a program like this is relevant in Guinea?

A: With the application, you can really avoid maternal mortality. This is why I wish that the application won’t be limited to only this zone [of project] but that it could be something really widespread, that we could manage that all health centers and health workers should have access to the app.

Normally, people don’t know where to look for information and they do not have the access. You always have the phone on you. I have downloaded the app, I always look it. It allows me to update my knowledge. And it allows us to update health worker’s knowledge. Even in health education, we could use it. Everyone has mobile phones now. We must find a way to unite all health workers and train them in the app.

Q: How does this program differ from other development programs in your region?

A: It’s different in terms of the way the smartphone becomes a companion. During trainings we distribute heavy brochures, but the health worker will not carry around these brochures. In the delivery room, in the village, everywhere he goes. But he has his phone, so the app is so accessible. It’s information at hand. Also, you cannot always call your professor or supervisor to ask a question, but with the app you can actually solve the problem without calling anyone.

I have recommended the app to many people. What we need is the means to mobilize people and talk about the app. What could give the app even more importance here, is that more authorities and partners should also accompany the project.

Q: What are your primary difficulties or challenges in the area of maternal health?

A: Our main challenge is the use of health services among rural women. Women must consult the health structures but here our main problem is the frequentation. Also the strengthening of training level of our health workers. Even if the population comes to the health structures, but they do not encounter skilled health workers, they won’t be contented. And we also have to make sure there are health workers to be found in these remote regions. And to educate community health assistants that can create awareness about health services.

Q: How can the Safe Delivery App help diminish these difficulties?

A: The Safe Delivery App can help by motivating and creating awareness. As well as being a tool to avoid fatal consequences related to delivery. It’s also an important tool to show to people who do not have a high level of knowledge. You know, people have superstitious beliefs. They think it [complications] are due to the devil or witchcraft. For example, eclampsia, when a woman enters into crises, in the villages they will say right away it’s the devil. And when you show them the app, and that it is her tension that is too high, which provoke eclampsia, this is a way to make awareness. When you show them the videos, they will understand and they will take their wife to the health center. Instead of saying “No, my wife should stay because it is her co-wife who has bewitched her” They will see it’s not the devil, it’s not witchcraft, but it’s a physiological phenomenon.

Q: Why is knowledge so important?

We teach in a theoretical way. When its theoretical, the comprehension varies. The intellectuals understand easily, but others need assistance to be able to manage situations. The app is very close to the practical management.

Q: What changes do you think are the most important that the Safe Delivery App can help to achieve in your region?

A: I am sure that the level of knowledge among not only the health workers but also among the population will be much improved. But also awareness has been improved. The word eclampsia, everyone is not francophone, and the word makes you think of something very bizarre. The word frightens you. Because the intellectuals like to speak about symbols and in a difficult French. But when you then show them what is hypertension, even to people who do not have a high level of knowledge, with the app it’s easy to show blood pressure. Everything is there at hand in the app. Also about post-partum hemorrhage. The newborn, the resuscitation, the Apgar score, everything is inside. It facilitates comprehension.