Bili-Hut: Saving newborn lives with rapid deployment of phototherapy in rural India

Little Sparrows Technologies
Organization Location: 
Winchester, MA, USA

Brain injury and death from severe neonatal jaundice is a preventable global health tragedy. Despite the relative simplicity of the cure, blue light phototherapy, rapid deployment of this treatment in rural, low resource areas of India has proven to be logistically challenging due to high equipment cost, distribution difficulties, and unreliable line power. Infants requiring phototherapy must be transported to urban referral facilities, often traveling for many hours. The resulting treatment delay places these newborns at high risk for adverse outcomes. The Bili-HutTM is a novel phototherapy device designed to improve access to jaundice treatment in low resource areas. It is extremely light-weight, portable, and capable of prolonged operation with a battery. The working prototype complies with recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics for high intensity phototherapy, delivering treatment in the optimal therapeutic light bandwidth equivalent or superior to existing commercial devices. Most initiatives to improve access to neonatal phototherapy center on equipment donation or designing cheaper devices for urban hospitals that have electricity. The Bili-HutTM will meet the specific needs of the previously unreachable, low resource areas without reliable electricity that have the highest mortality from jaundice. In this proposal we will (1.) evaluate the Bili-HutTM prototype for use in in remote communities in the Nagpur, India region and (2.) optimize the device through context-driven design improvements obtained from this field research. This will lead to creation of an end product uniquely designed to meet the challenges rural India and generalizable to other low resource regions.

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