GlobalNeoNat           Appropriate incubator for developing countries

The reduction of child mortality is listed as a priority target under the Millennium Development Goals. The number of under-five deaths worldwide has declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010, with the highest rates of child mortality still occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. This decline is not seen across all age groups. Neonatal mortality (i.e. below four weeks of age) currently represents a share of 40% of all child deaths which keeps growing. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest risk of death in the first month of life and has shown the least progress.

Hypothermia (low body temperature) is a major cause of neonatal mortality in developing countries. Up to 40% of the deaths associated with hypothermia could be prevented by simple adequate thermal management. The skin-to-skin contact (“kangaroo mother care”) that is advocated as the first line intervention to prevent hypothermia is not always possible, especially when phototherapy is also required for the treatment of jaundice. Jaundice affects one in four neonates, and more severely premature and growth-retarded infants. If left untreated, it is one of the main causes of cerebral palsy in developing countries (Kernicterus).

Existing incubator and infant warmer technology is costly and not adapted for the use in the context of developing countries, not to mention the high running costs. The instability of local electrical supply is an important issue that causes failures in the sensitive electronic control systems. This leads to heat loss and significant additional safety and hygiene issues while the ventilation mechanism is off.

This project aims to develop an entirely new technical concept for providing thermal therapy combined with phototherapy, which will be affordable and adapted to the environmental constraints of developing countries.

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