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The first 28 days of life – the neonatal period – are the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. Yet in vulnerable areas of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), access to medical technologies that could save these fragile lives is limited.
Medical equipment in LMICs tends to fail due to challenges including high cost, lack of infrastructure, unstable power supply, harsh climate and lack of trained personnel. Because rural hospitals are not equipped to deal with at-risk births, a high number of infants are transferred to higher-level hospitals, presenting a danger to the infants and burden to the healthcare system.
The Global Healthy Starts program aims to address this problem through a systemic approach to enable access to lifesaving oxygen and warmth. This comprises testing and delivering functional prototypes of oxygen concentrators and neonatal incubators that are affordable and adapted to the context. These life-saving medical devices are in development by EssentialTech through our GlobalO2 and GlobalNeoNat projects.
We will ensure capacity building as well as appropriate training for medical staff and technicians to maintain equipment. Ultimately, we also envision local production which will benefit the community and enhance acceptance.
Through this innovative approach, infants who are less ill can be appropriately treated where they are born, keeping them with their mothers and reducing risks associated with transfers. In addition, reference hospitals will be less burdened and able to focus on the most critical cases. The functioning of the whole system will be positively impacted.
G. B. Pisoni, C. Gaulis, S. Suter, M. A. Rochat, S. Makohliso, M. Roth-Kleiner, M.Kyokan, R. E. Pfister, and K. Schönenberger. Ending neonatal deaths from hypothermia in Sub-Saharan Africa: call for essential technologies tailored to the context. Frontiers in Public Health, 07 April 2022, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2022.851739
Makohliso, S., Klaiber, B., Sahli, R., Tapouh, J. R. M., Amvene, S. N., Stoll, B., &Schönenberger, K. Medical technology innovation for a sustainable impact in Low- andMiddle-Income countries: a holistic approach. Preprint: https://doi.org/10.31224/osf.io/2dytg