To help improve infant care in rural areas, global medical equipment manufacturer GE Healthcare announced that in partnership with the US based NGO Embrace, it would distribute low-cost infant warmers in rural India from March 2011. This infant warmer was founded by a team of engineers and business graduates from Stanford and Harvard Universities. It is priced about $200 i.e. about 1% of conventional incubators which may cost up to $20,000. It can work on batteries also.
The warmer is in the form of a miniature sleeping bag that uses a removable wax insert, which can be heated safely using hot water. For rural clinics, the team has designed another model that will use an electric heating apparatus instead of water to warm the wax. This product is easy to sanitize and can be heated over and over again. Once the hot wax insert is kept inside the sleeping bag, it can maintain a consistent 98 degrees for 4-6 hours, keeping the infants warm for hours and also help protect them from hypothermia (a reduction in core body temperature below 95 degree Fahrenheit or 35 degree Celsius). In developing countries like India about 20 million low birth weight babies are born each year. Due to insufficient fat beneath their skin they are prone to hypothermia
AdvertisementIn alignment with the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals, by 2015 GE is focusing to reduce the under-5 mortality rate by two-thirds. "As a sleeping bag, the warmer swaddles the baby with a wax pouch in an adjacent compartment that is heated via an electrical heater. As we are focused on the healthy-imagination tenets of reducing cost while improving quality and access through local solutions, the partnership with Embrace offers us an opportunity to provide maternal-infant care to check infant mortality," GE Healthcare vice-president Mike Barber said.