Inflatable baby incubator can

Inflatable baby incubator can reduce infant mortality in African countries

The number of infant deaths in African countries makes death on the continent higher than anywhere else in the world, even more so than equally-underdeveloped countries; but there may be some hope yet.

Inflatable baby incubator can

One of the largest contributors to the high infant mortality rate in African countries is a lack of medical equipment in rural areas, or simply a lack of funds to get hold of the right equipment. Meet MOM, a prototype inflatable incubator for prematurely born babies that costs up to 100 times less than conventional incubators.

MOM inflatable incubator

For every 100 000 births in Africa there are 400 deaths; that’s 100 more than what the World Health Organisation (WHO) already consider as too high, and that’s where James Roberts believes he can make a difference. Inspired by a documentary on infant mortality among Syrian refugees; Roberts got to work on his prototype design for a low-cost, reusable incubator that is easily transported and effective in rural areas.

MOM can be run on a car battery for up to 24 Hours, and is operated by an Arduino computing unit that also manages a phototherapy lamp that can be used to treat jaundice, as well as sound an alarm. Arduino is one of the easiest and cheapest processing systems to build and maintain, at little over R500 for a build-it yourself unit. There are also loads of Arduino building courses online, adding to the feasibility of it’s application.

At the core of this ingenious design is a sheet of plastic that is inflated, as well as a ceramic piece that is used to heat the unit for incubation.

“When it’s opened it won’t collapse in on the child and will maintain its shape,” said Roberts.

The segmented design of the kit allows damaged parts to be replaced without affecting the whole unit. And after the child is taken out of the incubator, it can be collapsed and the plastic sheet sterilised so that MOM can be easily transported for re-use elsewhere.