Wednesday September 19, 2018

Video- Newly Developed Technology Might Be Helpful in Saving Lives of Newborn in Africa

Understanding the harsh dusty environment in Malawi and inconsistent electricity will help engineers build better devices, suitable for that part of the world

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A teenager caressing the newborn. Pixabay
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An internship at a hospital in Malawi was an eye-opening experience for Sonia Sosa.

“Sometimes, there are tons of babies, and there are not that many nurses, so they’re understaffed. It was really hard to work there, but then it also challenged me to really go back and work really hard to be able to provide this care that is accessible to them,” said Sosa, who studied biomedical engineering and is a global health fellow at Rice 360° Institute for Global Health in Houston.

The purpose of the institute, through various programs, is to design and implement new technologies to combat global health problems.

One of the institute’s efforts is the Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies project also known as NEST360°. The collaborative, multinational effort aims to reduce the number of newborn deaths in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with one of the highest neonatal mortality rates in the world. NEST aims to develop a collection of medical technologies that would be appropriate for a harsh and challenging environment and make them sustainable through educating clinicians and developing distribution systems for this technology.

The devices are being developed or being tested, such as a light weight incubator, a diagnostic device for jaundice and respiratory rate monitor.

Made for the environment

In total, 17 technologies have been identified, and together, engineers say they can help prevent the top causes of newborn deaths such as pneumonia and preterm birth in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Our students developed a solution that would cost on the order of hundreds of dollars and not only address the fact that it needed to be robust and cost-effective, but also easy to maintain and repair should something happen,” said Yvette Mirabal, executive director of Rice 360° Institute For Global Health.

Countries such as Malawi have received donations of medical equipment in the past, but they were not always helpful.

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“I saw that all the devices come in as donations from First World countries, they didn’t fit in there. People used it differently, put them in weird places, and when they broke, there were no spare parts,” said global health fellow and engineer Jack Wang.

The devices ended up collecting dust and becoming useless because they were not right for the environment. There is also the issue of a lack of knowledge about the first world equipment.

“The engineers, doctors, nurses, aren’t necessarily familiar and or trained with them, unless they had gone to a Western school where they’ve been exposed to some of these technologies, but maybe even in more complex forms. So, there was a systemic change that needed to be addressed,” said Mirabal.

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Understanding the harsh dusty environment in Malawi and inconsistent electricity will help engineers build better devices, suitable for that part of the world.

“We’re, in some cases, incorporating battery power where it’s appropriate. And then in other cases, we’re testing out backup power or including sort of with the NEST bundle of technologies, a package of solar power so that when there are those blackouts, there’s a backup system,” Mirabal said.

Of the 17 technologies, some are commercially available. Others are either in clinical trials or in early prototypes. A $15 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation is a start at achieving the goal of developing the technologies, scale them and roll them out first in Malawi, and eventually to other countries that need them. (VOA)

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NASA Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary

NASA began operations on Oct. 1, 1958

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NASA Administrator James Bridenstine delivers remarks as he tours the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. VOA

NASA chiefs going back 30 years have come together to mark the space agency’s 60th anniversary.

Five former NASA administrators joined current boss Jim Bridenstine in Orlando on Monday. It was the largest gathering ever of NASA heads and included every administrator since 1989. The conference was arranged by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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NASA’s Opporutnity Rover. Flickr

The longest-serving administrator, Daniel Goldin of the 1990s, told Bridenstine there’s more to the company than human spaceflight and that the science and technology programs can help draw more public support.

Richard Truly of the post-Challenger shuttle era agreed, but noted humans need to explore.

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It was the largest gathering ever of NASA heads. Pixabay

Bridenstine, meanwhile, ran down NASA’s latest plans for sending astronauts back to the moon.

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Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin was present for the panel discussion.

The Company  began operations on Oct. 1, 1958. (VOA)