NeMo: Empowering Mothers to Identify Neonatal Illness

Johns Hopkins University
Organization Location: 
Baltimore, Maryland, USA

A majority of neonatal deaths within the first week of life occur at home due to undetected treatable illnesses. Community health workers (CHWs) serve as the frontline of defense for communities by screening and referring severely ill neonates. Insufficient numbers of CHWs and delayed postnatal visits limit program effectiveness, creating a bottleneck in providing timely and appropriate care. NeMo (Neonatal Monitoring) task shifts the identification of signs of severe illness necessitating referral in the first week of life, from CHWs to mothers, using evidence based WHO Integrated Management of Neonatal and Childhood Illness guidelines. NeMo is a smartphone application based mHealth system, in which a smartphone will be provided to the mother along with a wearable that will measure an infant’s respiratory rate and body temperature. The phone application will guide the mother, with both visual and audio messages, through the assessment of clinical signs of neonatal illness. It will also prompt her to monitor the neonate using a low-cost disposable wearable that will connect and transmit data to the smartphone. From the provided information, the system will prompt the mother to seek care from a community health worker if signs of severe illness have been detected. Empowering mothers to identify when their baby is sick can improve timeliness of care delivery, significantly impacting neonatal health. This proposal seeks seed funding for further prototype development and to conduct feasibility studies with its partners BRAC in Bangladesh and Makerere University in Uganda.