Embrace: Integrating Thermal Support Devices Into Vietnam's Infant Transport System To Improve Health Outcomes Among Low Birth Weight Neonates

Organization Location: 
San Francisco, CA USA

Low birth weight (LBW) infants are at higher risk of hypothermia due to their increased surface-to-mass ratios; studies indicate that the prevention and management of hypothermia through thermoregulation can reduce neonatal mortalities by up to 42%. Roughly 500 district hospitals in Vietnam lack neonatal intensive care units, forcing them to transfer infants with pathologies to provincial hospitals. Transport is unsophisticated and lacks standardization; ambulances, when available, are not equipped to provide thermoregulation. Transport is the weak link in the warm chain. Embrace's low-cost Infant Warmer provides a simple, portable, and reusable form of thermal support for up to six hours without electricity, making it an ideal transport mechanism for LBW neonates in resource-poor settings. Embrace will partner with East Meets West (EMW) to conduct a randomized control study evaluating the efficacy of the Infant Warmer as a thermal support device during transport of LBW newborns from district to provincial hospitals. A qualitative study will measure health practitioners' knowledge of thermoregulation before and after intensive training. This partnership combines Embrace's innovative technology with EMW's proven and scalable service-delivery model. We aim to improve practitioners' capacity to manage neonatal hypothermia and to establish early evidence of the Infant Warmer's efficacy as a neonatal hypothermia intervention capable of improving neonatal health outcomes when integrated into medical transport systems. If successful, LBW infants transferred via Embrace will have an average temperature at admission 1 degree Celsius higher than infants transported using existing methods.

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