Scaling a Low-cost, Robust, Continuous Temperature Monitor to Reduce Neonatal Death Due to Hypothermia in Sub-Saharan Africa

University of Malawi College of Medicine
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Newborn hypothermia is a pervasive global challenge; as many as 85 percent of infants born in hospitals in low-resource settings are too cold. Although temperature monitoring is critical for newborn care, in over-crowded wards, temperature is often only taken twice per day. For at-risk infants, the hours in which newborns’ condition are undiagnosed can make the difference between life and death. University of Malawi College of Medicine and Rice University will scale up the Rice 360° Neonatal Temperature Monitor (NTM): a simple, affordable and durable tool to continuously monitor and display newborn temperature, providing a rapid way to alert clinical staff and mothers to periods of hypo- or hyperthermia. NTM meets international standards for accuracy and its visual indicators are well-liked by nurses. The project will improve treatment for infants needing thermal care by giving clinicians the time-sensitive information that they need to provide that care. With Saving Lives at Birth funding, the team would prepare NTM for large-scale manufacturing, develop a regulatory plan, and build the case for distribution of NTM in countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They will monitor the impact and uptake of NTM on newborn and kangaroo mother care wards at three central and six district hospitals in Malawi. It is anticipated that at least 1,100 babies will receive temperature monitoring and 75 nurses will receive training on use of NTM for continuous monitoring. Once commercially available, NTM will improve care for the millions of babies who are born at risk for hypothermia each year.

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