Low-cost disposable incubator (warmer/cooler) for reducing infant mortality and infection.

Organization: 
Phoenix Medical Systems (P) Limited
Organization Location: 
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Low resource environments present many challenges for maternal and neonatal healthcare delivery, such as a lack of basic equipment to protect newborns, particularly at-risk neonates. Most rural healthcare facilities lack even a simple incubator/warmer. Additionally mothers face social pressure to return home with the infant immediately after delivery. Such cultural factors inhibit care-giving, further decreasing chances of infant survival. Through previous seed-funding from NCIIA, we built a prototype and improved it based on feedback from NGOs and rural healthcare workers in India. We will leverage that design, through a partnership between: Dr. Rao's UMBC team, experts in low-cost technology development, infectious disease, and community activism; Phoenix Medical Systems, an Indian incubator/manufacturer delivering high-quality technology to resource limited environments for two decades; and Karuna Trust, our deployment partner in pioneering a successful Public-Private-partnership model that complements government investment in public healthcare infrastructure with a socially committed, not-for-profit management team. Our major innovations are 1. Disposable infant-chamber for infection control 2. Heat pipe-coupled evaporative cooler (water-filled clay pot) enabling controlled cooling functionality. 3. Hyper-insulated design with thermal storage, consuming very low power for several hours of operation on battery. Existing designs from developed countries don't fit well in the 'lean' rural environment of intermittent/no electricity, uneducated care-givers and sparse funds. A low-cost device, inexpensive to operate, disseminated through an involved NGO, delivers advanced neonatal care at points-of-care where it is really needed.

See video