Life-saving ‘bubble’ wins GSK and Save the Children funding
A simple, low-cost device that helps newborn babies to breathe and has the potential to transform the life chances for thousands of African babies has been awarded the highest fund in the first GSK and Save the Children $1m Healthcare Innovation Award.
The life-saving kit, called a ‘bubble’ Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, or ‘bCPAP’, is used to help babies in respiratory distress. CPAP devices use air pressure to keep patients airways open, and as there are few wall-mounted air supplies in Malawi hospitals, the newly innovated bCPAP air pump works on its own. A similar version is already commonly used in developed countries where they cost at least $6,000 each. This innovative low-cost ‘bubble’ CPAP adaptation can be produced for approximately $400.
The organisation behind the innovation and recipients of a $400,000 share of the $1m award is Friends of Sick Children, Malawi – a partnership between the paediatric department of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies in the United States and the University of Malawi College of Medicine.
The funding from the Healthcare Innovation Award, along with backing from the Ministry of Health in Malawi, will mean use of the device can be replicated and expanded to Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa.
Four other organisations apportioned grants from the $1m fund were:
· BRAC, Bangladesh - $300,000 awarded for the ‘Manoshi’ programme, which delivers a comprehensive package of health services for women and children in the urban slums of Dhaka;
· MUSO, Mali - $100,000 awarded for focus on a community-level system designed to support the early identification of women and children in need of healthcare, before their symptoms escalate to a more serious condition;
· Microclinic Technologies, Kenya - $100,000 awarded for an innovative mobile health management system designed to improve the quality of maternal and child care by providing access to real-time data to improve health planning decisions;
· Kangaroo Foundation, Columbia (Fundacion Canguro)- $100,000 awarded in special recognition of their long-term Kangaroo Mother Care programme, which promotes early skin-to-skin contact between mothers and their premature and newborn babies.