It’s never too early to care…
Today is World Prematurity Awareness Day, an emotional topic as without adaquate care, prematurity can have devasting consequences for whole families. Heartbreakingly, figures by the World Health Organisation reveal that an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely every year and preterm birth complications are the leading cause of death among children under 5. It was this very cause that resulted in nearly 1 million deaths in 2013. With 98% of these deaths occuring in developing countries and with numbers set to rise, it is vital to make cost-effective solutions firstly, widely known and secondly, available to those in acute need.
In a bid to publicize such far-reaching, basic health interventions, the empowering people. Network’s Solution Database showcases a range of low-tech, affordable products. The following solutions provide caregiving and supervision during the first few critical weeks of a newborn’s life.
A cradle of care…
At the beginning, babies cannot regulate their body temperatures and in preterm infants a lack of body fat means they become cold very quickly. Warmth is needed and can be given in the form of an embrace, not only by parents but also in the form of the Embrace Warmer, developed by Embrace Global. This miniature sleeping bag incorporates phase change material and maintains a constant, clinically-ideal temperature for up to 6 hours. This intuitive device can also be reused, sterilized and, more importantly, repaired locally.
However, the vigilance must continue once a child is taken home. Most recently, the BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Bracelet won first prize in our empowering people. Award competition. With premature babies at high risk of developing hypothermia, BEMPU Health has created a temperature-monitoring wristband for newborns, which clearly and intuitively alerts caregivers if a baby’s temperature drops and the baby becomes hypothermic. This can have serious and long-term consequences on a child’s health including retarded growth, poor organ development, and even death. Once the alert has been sounded, a parent or nurse can swaddle the baby – a proven health intervention, which rapidly raises a newborn’s temperature.
Being a first-time parent is undoubtedly a daunting task, especially for those living in remote areas where health centres and professionals are a long way off. The solution GiftedMom, another winner in our Award, rises to these challenges by providing an app which combines SMS and voice reminders with curative GPS-integrated tricycle solutions. With the aim of ending preventable maternal and infant deaths, this education platform answers questions and provides advice to worried parents. As kangeroo-care (swaddling) is a quick way to provide fast aid, this messaging platform can, for example, help save the lives of (preterm) babies with drops in temperature. Further assistance is supplied with tricycles that can pick up the parent and child from remote destinations.
The WHO estimates that three-quarters of the preterm mortalities could be saved using current, cost-effective interventions and we know that there are so many wonderful, innovative, life-saving solutions out there – we just have to get them to the right people before it is too late.
Do help raise awareness for this acute problem during the Prematurity Awareness Month and today on the World Prematurity Day by visiting Facebook World Prematurity Day. Here the public can share stories of their babies and exchange experiences from other families around the world. Let’s spread the message and raise awareness – because these children should be given a fighting chance.