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First time on the ground in Morocco

Reality check. We have dreamed about and planned this project for years. Now it is reality. We have the funding and we have the new version of our technology. We have in-kind sponsors in Sonosite that provide us with 5 M-Turbos (medium sized portable ultrasound devices), we have Sony that has given us tablets, or fablets, for diagnostic review and mobile phones to connect the ultrasounds systems through, and we have Dr. Larry Platt overlooking the quality of our project and an amazing project leader in the experienced Dagmar Nuber. Dressed for success.

This is our plan: We will do about 400 ultrasounds in three small villages that have what is called a health house. It is like a tiny hospital (more like a practice) with access to the basics. They have labor and delivery, they have nurses, most of them also have a midwife, and they have basic medications but no imaging devices.

On this first trip the purpose was to build relationships to the local government representatives, assign physicians to the project and visit the locations.

The first day we met with Sony locally and got a crash course on the devices. We also met with the operator to figure out if and where they had good enough networks and to agree on what SIM cards, dongles, etc. to use. We visited Madame Bejaloun, a well-respected maternal fetal medicine specialist, and Madame Skalli, a honored maternal fetal medicine specialist. Madam Skalli go on a caravan once a year to provide their services outside the city centers of Morocco. We have a lot to learn from her experiences. We also met with Dr. Akkiki at his practice. These three physicians signed up as volunteers to read our studies.

Dr. Chrit, the local representation of the health ministery in Rabat (the capital of Morocco) took us around to see two health houses and one regional hospital in Tifflet. We were mesmerized about their engagement and enthusiasm. Wherever we went people wanted to join our project and offered to help in one way or another. We were amazed about how poorly equipped these practices were. We have visited clinics that were happy to have leg rests on their beds and where the staff had close to no training at all. We meet with doctors at a hospital that deliver 9,000 babies a year. They had one ultrasound machine. One!

This trip was a success. We got physician volunteers signed up, we found our local champion and patron Dr. Chrit, we selected locations and we aligned all our partners to our mission. This trip created a lot of insight and a huge portion of humbleness for the task we have set  up for ourselves.  What’s next? Get the trial going.

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