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Philips announces collaboration with PowerFree Education Technology (PET) to commercialize innovative Wind-Up Fetal Heart Rate Monitor 

⁻ Partnership aimed at addressing the high rates of preventable infant mortality across the continent
⁻ Philips unveils power-independent wind-up fetal Doppler; a clinical innovation that addresses local needs; enables healthcare workers to detect fetal distress during labour

October 02, 2014

Nairobi, Kenya  – Royal Philips (AEX: PHIA, NYSE: PHG), today announced a partnership with South Africa based not-for-profit organization, PET (PowerFree Education Technology), to further develop, test and commercialize a Wind-up Doppler Ultrasound Fetal Heart Rate Monitor (in short: Wind-up Fetal Doppler), a unique power-independent clinical innovation aimed at addressing the high rates of preventable infant mortality across Africa.

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler is a device to easily and accurately count the fetal heart rate while the mother is in labor. A slowing of this fetal heart rate towards the end of a uterine contraction is an important indicator that a fetus is not receiving enough oxygen and may suffer brain damage or die. If this is detected early enough, a midwife or delivering nurse can take the necessary actions to save the child.

Wind-up fetal doppler
The wind-up fetal doppler

The Wind-up Fetal Doppler will be commercialized by the Philips Africa Innovation Hub, which is the center for developing innovations “in Africa-for Africa” in the areas of healthcare, lighting and healthy living. The Philips Africa Innovation Hub has unveiled the first Philips prototype of the Wind-up Fetal Doppler, underpinning their commitment to the partnership. The prototype is subject to clinical testing and regulatory approval, before release for general usage.

Measuring fetal heart rate - an important indicator of fetal health

Women and infants in semi-urban and rural areas across Africa often die due to preventable complications during child birth. Many infants, especially in under-resourced settings die during labor or suffer brain injury due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the baby during the hours that the mother is in labor. Many of these deaths could be prevented and cases of brain injury avoided, using a Doppler ultrasound monitor that helps midwives and delivering nurses to monitor the baby’s wellbeing during labor1.

Current methods to measure the fetal heart rate are either too expensive, too inaccurate or rely on replaceable batteries or electricity to run; the Wind-up Fetal Doppler is especially designed to empower midwives and delivering nurses to give better care.

“It is very hard to do an accurate measurement with a Pinard-stethoscope, because you need to be able to hear the fetal heart well and count the rate correctly. It is often also uncomfortable for the mother. A Doppler ultrasound fetal heart rate monitor is a good solution, but the current monitors on the market require mains or battery power, and are not robust enough.” states, Anneke Jagau, a midwife working for PET.

PET has been working on the development of the hand cranked, Wind-up Fetal Doppler for many years, and they verified the positive impact of the device in tests in Uganda, where 60% more cases of abnormal fetal heart rate were detected in labor, compared to the standard Pinard-stethoscope.

Maarten van Herpen, Head of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub, states: “Philips is open to collaborations with key stakeholders, including governments and NGOs, to create impactful innovations that matter to people and address the key challenges that confront society. PET has invested many years in the development of this important idea. I am honored that PET has chosen Philips as the company that is best positioned to commercialize it and make it available across Africa”.

“We are very excited about the collaboration with Philips”, said Dr Francois Bonnici, Director of PET and Director of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cape Town, “We chose to work with Philips because of a strong alignment on the mission to improve people’s lives with meaningful innovation. As a market leader in healthcare, Philips will be able to make our innovation available and affordable for frontline health care workers across the African continent.”

Philips remains consistently committed to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, linked to the current UN Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (MDGs); the company has also made a pledge to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s initiative Every Woman Every Child and committed to improving the lives of 100 million women and children by 2025 targeting sub-Saharan Africa where high maternal and infant mortality can be addressed through early diagnosis and preventative care.

1 Woods D. Appropriate technology and education for improved intrapartum care in under-resourced countries. S Afr J Obstet Gynaecol 2009; 15: 78-79.

Mangesi L, Hofmyr GJ, Woods DL. Assessing the preference of women for different methods of monitoring the fetal heart in labour. S Afr J Obstet Gynaecol 2009; 15: 58-59

For further information, please contact:

Radhika Choksey
Philips Group Communications - Africa  
Tel: +31 62525 9000

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at

About PowerFree Education Technology (PET)

PET based in South Africa, was established as a not-for-profit organization by key experts in newborn and child health. PET advocates and stimulates the development of appropriate, low-cost, robust, and power-independent medical devices, together with learning materials, to aid life-saving decisions and help frontline healthcare workers meet the challenges of health care in under-resourced settings. More information on PET is located at

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