Testing and Implementation of Low-cost Breathing Aid for Infants in Tigray, Ethiopia

Yale University
Organization Location: 
New Haven, Connecticut, USA

PremieBreathe addresses the widespread global health problem of neonatal mortality due to respiratory failure. Over one million newborns die each year due to pneumonia, preterm birth and other respiratory-related causes, accounting for 40% of newborn deaths. While life-saving breathing support technologies are widely available in high-income countries, these respiratory aids are not affordable or designed for use in low- or middle-income countries, where the majority of these deaths occur. PremieBreathe has built a functional infant breathing aid for $450, one tenth the price of commercial models. The device, a humidified high flow nasal cannula (HHFNC), is the gold standard of non-invasive neonatal respiratory care in high-income countries. PremieBreathe’s prototype is designed to adapt to the constraints of low-resource clinical settings and minimizes reliance on hospital infrastructure. Laboratory testing of the device has demonstrated identical clinical outputs to commercial HHFNC technology used in neonatal intensive care units in the U.S. With the support of Saving Lives at Birth, PremieBreathe will conduct initial trials at Ayder Referral Hospital in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, and identify design, manufacturing, and distribution partners to prepare for scaled production and dissemination. Successful implementation of PremieBreathe technology could prevent up to 880 deaths a year in the pilot region, and ultimately save thousands of newborn lives around the world.

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