This startup boosts maternal health in Indonesia

Entrepreneurs Anda Sapardan and Abraham Auzan are trialling low-cost tools to cut maternal deaths.

Pulse Lab Jakarta catches up with Anda Sapardan and Abraham Auzan, the founders of Tele-CTG - a low-cost cardiotocograph to measure maternal and fetal health - to learn more about their story and plans for the future. What inspired you to create Tele-CTG? For an emerging middle-income country, the maternal and infant mortality rate in Indonesia is quite high. Part of this issue can be attributed to the absence of good healthcare diagnostics in remote areas. For example, cardiotocographs (CTG) are only available in health centres in big cities. Also, the outputs of conventional CTGs devices can only be read by obstetricians. With approximately five million expectant mothers to serve, Indonesia’s stock of around 3,500 obstetricians struggle to meet demand. Based on these problems, in late 2015, Dr. Ari Waluyo and I [Anda] prototyped Tele-CTG, a portable and considerably more cost-effective device. By integrating the device with smartphones, we are able to connect midwives and nurses in remote districts with obstetricians in cities in order to accelerate assessment and diagnosis. Tele-CTG is undergoing a clinical trial at the moment in Puskesmas Kuningan Barat in Jakarta under the Ministry of Health’s supervision. telectg What’s the hardest part of setting up an enterprise? We have ten people in our Tele-CTG team — most of them are either tech developers or obstetricians. It is great to work with a diverse and passionate team, but it has been difficult to find hardware engineers in Indonesia and it has taken us a lot of time to develop this device. Another challenge came in the form of paperwork, especially the registration process for licensing Tele-CTG. That was tough. What’s next for Tele-CTG? Currently we are working with the Association of Laboratory and Health Equipment Enterprises (Gakeslab Indonesia) on the distribution of Tele-CTG. We are also in the process of establishing a command centre together with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Indonesia, in order to build a network of obstetricians across Indonesia who can interpret the data feeds from Tele-CTG. The next step is to provide Tele-CTG devices to health centers on the islands of Java and Kalimantan. We hope that by using Tele-CTG, people who live outside urban areas in Java can have better access to maternal healthcare diagnostics. What advice would you give to people who have bright ideas for social good, and want to act on them? [Anda Sapardan] If you want to do something good for people, you have to think about the impact for society. Don’t start with the aim of making profit. Be patient and well prepared when things don’t seem as good as you would have expected. [Abraham Auzan] Young people have so many ideas but the one who makes a difference is the one who implements the idea. What matters more than coming up with new ideas is to implement them, and it takes courage to take risks and be adaptive. Fahmi Ramadhan is communications assistant at Pulse Lab Jakarta.