They had 48 hours to come up with an idea, pitch it before a panel of judges and turn it into a prototype that could potentially improve neonatal and maternal health in poor countries.
Competing against 30 other groups that presented their prototypes, team Kangaroo+ emerged winners of this year’s annual health innovations hackathon hosted by Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Uganda from August 25 to 27.
Their affordable medical technology, Kangaroo+, modifies traditional kangaroo mother care by combining a solar or battery-powered monitor, thermometer and skin-to-skin contact.
It is in the form of a jacket, attached with straps, which the parent can use to hold the baby, both on the chest and back, depending on their preference.
The jacket also has a colour-coded monitor, which shows the temperature of the baby. “Green indicates that the baby has enough warmth and red is a sign that the baby is cold,” said Madinah Nalubega, a Kangaroo+ team member.
Traditional kangaroo mother care usually involves a baby being held skin-to-skin by the parent to give it warmth.
The baby is usually naked and placed in an upright position against the parent’s bare chest. It is preferred for pre-term or babies before 37 weeks of gestation.
Other winning innovations were a urine collection tool for fistula patients, a device for treating menstrual cramps and a low cost infant warmer.
The winners were awarded $782 of the total $2,000 prize for their prototype, and six months accelerated support to further develop their innovation.
According to the WHO pre-term births are a challenge in poor countries. Some 15 million babies are born pre-term every year, mostly in sub-Saharan African. Pre-term birth complications also lead to a million deaths globally every year.
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