Ethiopia is a low-income country located in the horn of Africa’s sub-Saharan region, with very high incidences of maternal and neonatal mortality. Quality antenatal care improves perinatal health outcomes. The USAID funded Transform: Primary Health Care Activity in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and GE Healthcare introduced Vscan limited obstetric ultrasound services in 120 health centers in Ethiopia. So far, the experiences and opinions of midwives on their use have not been explored and described within the local context. This study therefore aims to explore and describe the experiences and opinions of midwives on Vscan limited obstetric ultrasound services at health centers within Ethiopia.
An exploratory and descriptive qualitative study was conducted in Amhara, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) regions of Ethiopia. Twenty-four participants were selected through a purposeful sampling technique. In-depth individual interviews with trained midwives with practical hands-on limited obstetric ultrasound service provision experience were conducted. The thematic analysis was conducted manually.
The qualitative data analysis on the experiences and opinions of midwives revealed three themes, namely: individual perception of self-efficacy, facilitators, and barriers of limited obstetric ultrasound services. The basic ultrasound training, which was unique in its organization and arrangement, prepared and built the self-efficacy of trainees in executing their expected competencies. Support of health systems and health managers in dedicating space, availing essential supplies, and assigning human resources emerged as facilitators of the initiated limited obstetric ultrasound services, whereas high workload on one or two ultrasound trained midwives, interruption of essential supplies like paper towels, gel, and alternative power sources were identified as barriers for limited ultrasound services.
This study explored the experiences and opinions of midwives who were trained on the provision of limited obstetric ultrasound services and served the community in health centers in rural parts of Ethiopia. The results of this study revealed the positive impacts of the intervention on the perceived self-efficacy, facilitation, and breaking-down of barriers to obstetric ultrasound services. Before scaling-up limited obstetric ultrasound interventions, health managers should ensure and commit to availing essential supplies (e.g., paper towels, ultrasound gel, and large memory hard discs), arranging private rooms, and training other mid-level health professionals. In addition, improving pregnant women’s literacy on the national schedule for ultrasound scanning services is recommended.