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