August 31, 2017 |

Friday Think: How 48 hours can make a critical difference

Millions of lives could be saved by the ideas identified at SL@B, an annual competition with a funny-sounding name.
Tubing and 3D-printed device held in hands.
Among the technologies joining a growing list of the most promising ideas to save lives at birth is an inexpensive, robust oxygen blender, part of a newborn respiratory package for use where no source of pressurized air is available. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

In a recent Global Health Technologies Coalition Breakthroughs Blog, author Marissa Chmiola asks: “What do an onsite chlorine generator, fingerprint scanning technology for newborns, and temperature-monitoring wristband all have in common?”

The question sounds complicated, but the answer is simple: Saving Lives at Birth (SL@B) recently recognized all for their potential to save millions of maternal and newborn lives—at their most vulnerable—during the first 48 hours after birth.

Here’s an excerpt from Marissa Chmiola’s post, “A competition where the highest prize is lives saved”:

“These were among the many innovations pitched on July 27 at the DevelopmentXChange—the final stage of competition in the seventh annual Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development. . . . This year, the challenge received more than 550 applications from across the world, with 53 teams chosen as finalists to compete at this year’s DevelopmentXChange. At the conclusion of the event, 15 winners were selected, with additional grant recipients to be announced later this year in the transition-to-scale category.”

So what does it really mean to receive an award?

Firstly, the technologies join a growing list of the most promising ideas to save lives at birth, many of which are already saving tens of thousands of women and children. Secondly, this recognition will help secure new funding to move these solutions toward scale. The challenge, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development, the Government of Norway, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, and the Korea International Cooperation Agency, has earmarked more than US$7.3 million to help fund the advancement of these solutions, whether it be more research, testing, or development.

A man holds (and explains) a tubing device while three others look on in the PATH shop.
Clinicians review a 3-D–printed prototype of a low-cost oxygen blender in the PATH shop. Pictured (left to right) are Drs. Anna Hedstrom and Ryan McAdams of University of Washington/Seattle Children’s Hospital, Dr. James Nyonyintono of Kiwoko Hospital/Adara Development in Uganda, and PATH’s Gene Saxon. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

We’re always excited to see new ideas with great lifesaving potential make their debut, and honored that three of the 15 technologies that won awards are PATH innovations:

  • The SE Flow Chlorinator for use in labor wards—an easy-to-use, cost-effective chlorine generator designed for low-resource settings.
  • A one-step rapid diagnostic test that can be used at home to detect urinary adipsin (a biomarker for preeclampsia).
  • A newborn respiratory package complete with a low-cost bubble CPAP device (short for continuous positive airway pressure), oxygen blender, nasal prongs, pulse oximeter, and training materials.

For more detail, read the full article, “A competition where the highest prize is lives saved,” on the Breakthroughs Blog.

Editor’s note: Marissa Chmiola is a PATH communications officer who also manages the Global Health Technologies Coalition blog.

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  • Portrait of Tracy Romoser. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.
    Tracy Romoser was formerly a communications officer and the blog editor at PATH.