The Malawian “bubble” Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or bCPAP that helps babies in respiratory distress has made it to one of the five projects from a list of nearly 100 applications from 29 countries across the developing world, that has just earned the highest fund in the first GSK and Save the Children $1million Healthcare Innovation Award.
The organisation behind the innovation and recipients of a $400,000 share of the $1 million award is Friends of Sick Children, Malawi – a partnership between the pediatric department of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies in the United States and the University of Malawi College of Medicine.
While newborn mortality rates have been a challenge in the developing world in which three million babies died in their first 28 days of life in 2012, The life-saving kit, ‘bCPAP’, has been designed to help babies in respiratory distress, which is often caused by acute respiratory infections like pneumonia. CPAP devices use air pressure to keep patients airways open, and as there are few wall-mounted air supplies in Malawi hospitals, the newly innovated bCPAP air pump works on its own. It’s also made of durable materials that are inexpensive and easy to repair.
The judging panel of experts from the fields of public health and development, co-chaired by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, and Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive of Save the Children, were impressed with the bCPAP device’s impact on tackling newborn deaths, and the associated comprehensive training and education programme on premature child-care.
“Despite huge progress being made in under-five mortality in the past ten years, there hasn’t been the same progress made in the number of newborn babies dying in poor countries in the first 28 days of life,” said Chief Executive of Save the Children, Justin Forsyth, “This is an area that needs urgent attention, so it is heartening that all five winning innovations from this award concentrate on the area of newborn care. It is also inspiring to see countries finding solutions to their own challenges and partnering with other countries in the developing world to replicate and champion new innovations.”
Despite a similar version is already commonly used in developed countries where they cost at least $6,000 each this innovative low-cost ‘bubble’ CPAP adaptation can be produced for approximately $400.
Moreover, the funding from the Healthcare Innovation Award, along with backing from the Ministry of Health in Malawi, will mean use of the device can be replicated and expanded to Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa of which, is likely to reduce child mortality rates.
Exited about receiving the award, The Friends of Sick Children, Malawi and the bCPAP team said that the award money would help them replicate and begin scaling up their programme across Africa, ensuring that they reach and save even more children’s lives.
“We are delighted to be the recipients of the first GSK-Save the Children Healthcare Innovation Award,” the team said, “To be recognised for the work that we do and to hopefully inspire others around the world is an honour.”