October 19, 2015

A little red beam of light is saving newborn lives

Written by Annamarie Saarinen, co-founder, Newborn Foundation



Neonatal infection (sepsis and pneumonia) rank among the most common causes of newborn mortality, accounting for 1/3 of newborn deaths each year – more than 1 million lives. Another 10% of deaths in infancy are attributed to undiagnosed or delayed intervention for congenital heart defects, the most prevalent and deadly birth defect.  Using a simple, non-invasive and low-cost pulse oximetry test to measure blood-oxygen saturations in newborns yields important, actionable information for health workers BEFORE other visible signs of disease or illness take hold – at which point it is often too late for the most effective interventions. The BORN Project is a systems and implementation model that is currently screening more than 78,000 newborns and training public health stakeholders, clinicians and health workers in rural China, the Philippines and Ecuador. The project is the first to demonstrate efficacy and sustainability for a low-cost, medical grade, mobile-phone pulse oximeter that can help with early detection of pneumonia, sepsis and CHD using a train-the-trainer implementation model supported by public health and clinical leadership. The program is developing viable frameworks for designing and implementing new mHealth enabled technology in the field alongside best practices for engaging clinical, policy and political leadership in implementing, iterating, and integrating with population health initiatives to provide data, metrics for infrastructure improvement and sustainable impact. 

Learn more about the BORN Project here.