Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – Young engineers of a nonprofit organization called ‘CONGOLESTIC’ have developed an incubator. The incubator is set to maintain an adjustable internal temperature, equipped with ultraviolet light to cure jaundice, the device can also monitor the child’s heart rate and subcutaneous temperature. Connected to a mobile application, the incubator is able shares the baby’s data with remote healthcare professionals.
On average 12% of babies are born prematurely in poorest countries. According to UNICEF, the DRC is one of the 10 African countries where the risk of neonatal death is highest with more than 341 400 premature births per year.
The risk of a baby in Africa dying on the first day of life is close to 10 per 1000 live births, or 1%. Every year, about 300 000 African babies die on the day of their birth, mainly due to lack of adequate maternal and neonatal care.
“The choice of our innovation is inspired by a problem that our country has known for decades and it has been the cause of several cases of infant deaths. The majority of maternity clinics in the DRC lack incubators. It is in desperation that population do what they can by surrounding premature newborns with bottles of hot water until they reach a satisfactory weight, “reports the engineer Joachin Fwana, Innovation Manager at CONGOLESTIC.
The use of an incubator has a dual purpose. It allows the premature to be warmed so that it reaches more weight because its thermoregulation system has not reached maturity. But also, it isolates the baby considering that most of its vital functions are immature.
In the Congo, lack of electricity, displacement of populations in war zones and lack of qualified personnel in remote areas constitute ongoing challenges to the government’s efforts. Moved by this situation, the CONGOLESTIC team has been working on this project for few months in order to propose a solution that could make it possible to reduce newborns’ death by innovating with a simple, technological and less expensive device.
‘Easy Incubator’, the incubator created by CONGOLESTIC has a plastic design part that has been obtained via modern manufacturing processes (3D printing). The rest of the elements constituting it are of electronic components. It is very light and the team envisaged its possible delivery by means of drones considering the emergencies and difficulties of access to the rural areas in the DRC.
The device is equipped with a program called i-DOCTOR ASSIST, a data transmission system created by the same team, which allows them to collect and bring back data on the interface of an Android app which in turn sends this information on a cloud database.
The aim is also to provide for the lack of qualified health workers in remote areas. With this incubator, the baby’s surveillance dependent and nurse in duty can share the information collected by the incubator and request assistance from a remote doctor who will be connected to the application in real time.
The complete operating system of the incubator is simple and uses a maximum of 20 W of electrical energy. Working with a small solar panel of 48 W during the day, it can switch to a battery during the night. CONGOLESTIC has estimated its selling price below $ 300 per unit.
Though this innovation still in the experimental phase, its first tests are very encouraging. Contacts have been made with international health agencies and private companies that could help finance the remaining steps and its development.
Congolese and Information and Communication Technologies (CONGOLESTIC) is a non-governmental organization created in 2015.
CONGOLESTIC strives to create an environment in which Congolese youth is celebrated as a unique group with increased creativity and encouraged to flourish.
The organization inspires enthusiasm for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. It organizes hands-on workshops on coding, robotics, cybersecurity and the Internet. CONGOLESTIC works with groups of young Congolese engineers on innovative solutions to address the health and socio-economic challenges in the DR Congo.
For more information on the Easy Incubator, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call: DRC [+243 82 110 2850] and South Africa [+27 82 058 3583].
For more information on CONGOLESTIC and its workshops, visit the website: https://congolestic.org/