Thrive Networks’ newborn health program improves healthcare in low-resource settings through innovation, capacity development and research to help vulnerable newborns survive and thrive.
The first 28 days of life–the neonatal period–is the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. Since 1990, there has been a significant decrease in deaths among children under five years old. Yet progress in reducing newborn mortality has been far slower due to lack of attention and investment: newborn deaths now account for 44% of under-five mortality, resulting in more than 2.5 million preventable deaths every year.
In low-resource countries, many newborns die or develop disabilities because hospitals lack the appropriate equipment and skilled staff to address easily treatable conditions. High-tech medical technology is often donated to hospitals in poorer countries, but many of these devices remain unused as they were not designed for low-resource environments. Doctors and nurses often report that donated equipment is difficult and expensive to operate, costly to repair, and unsuited to hospitals that lack a reliable power supply. Plus, many promising new health technologies never make the transition from laboratory to market and, if they do, often face difficulties in reaching scale.
Thrive Health’s Newborn Health Program, formerly known as Breath of Life, focuses on strengthening the quality of newborn care in low-resource settings. By providing staff training and mentoring, appropriate medical devices, and remote and onsite support, the program helps facilities to save the lives of newborns suffering from common and easily treatable conditions, such as jaundice, respiratory distress and hypothermia. The program gives health professionals the tools they need to fulfill their vision of delivering care, parents the opportunity to see their child grow and thrive, and children the chance to lead healthy and productive lives.
In a public-private partnership with MTTS, a Vietnam-based social enterprise that manufactures affordable neonatal medical devices, the Newborn Health Program addresses the multiple challenges that hospitals in low-resource environments face in reducing neonatal mortality and morbidity. In partnership with Ministries of Health, national universities, and leading neonatologists, the program:
- Provides additional clinical education on essential and advanced newborn care using a “train the trainer” approach
- Provides hospitals with durable, new medical equipment that is designed to function in low-resource settings, is easy to operate, and has no expensive consumable parts
- Trains doctors and nurses to use the equipment effectively
- Supports equipment maintenance by offering warranties and providing timely repairs
- Provides onsite and remote support and nurse mentoring, in selected settings
- Ensures program effectiveness through ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation
Approximately 450,000 newborns in more than 350 hospitals across 14 countries have been treated through the Newborn Health Program since 2003.
In July 2015, we welcomed the nonprofit Embrace Global into the Thrive Health family. Embrace was founded at Stanford University in 2008, when a team of graduate students developed a low-tech, low-cost device called the Embrace Infant Warmer to treat newborns suffering from hypothermia. The Embrace warmer joins Thrive Health’s suite of equipment designed to provide appropriate, good quality care for newborns in resource-limited settings. The Embrace warmer is helping to fill a key gap in care: transport of newborns between and within health facilities.
Thrive Health’s Suite of Medical Equipment
Embrace infant warmer to manage hypothermia during transport
Radiant warmer to manage hypothermia
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine to treat respiratory distress
Firefly LED phototherapy to treat newborn jaundice
Infection control to create a safe and clean newborn care unit
Dolphin CPAP (2017) improves ability to treat respiratory distress
Program Spotlight: CPAP
In Vietnam, the lack of an appropriate CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device with locally available consumables was a key barrier to effective treatment of respiratory distress among premature, low birth weight babies. In 2004, Thrive Networks collaborated with MTTS, a local social enterprise, the National Hospital of Pediatrics in Vietnam, and leading national clinicians to design and produce a locally appropriate CPAP device.
After a successful 12-month pilot program at the National Hospital, where 24-hour mortality from respiratory distress syndrome was reduced by 75% after the introduction of the device (Ringer, 2008), the model was rolled out by Thrive Networks and its partners to all National, Provincial and Referral District Hospitals in the country, with intensive training, national protocols, continuous follow up and coaching. It has become the standard CPAP treatment for the whole country.
With funding from the Wellcome Trust, we are now developing an improved CPAP device for the Indian market (Dolphin CPAP 2017), which has one of the highest burdens of neonatal mortality. The device will include compatibility with battery and solar energy and requires fewer consumables. We expect to have the device ready for market in May 2017.
What We Do
Invest In Innovation
- Develop low-cost technologies for resource-limited settings and ensure they reach target facilities
- Support MTTS, a Vietnam-based social enterprise to design and manufacture appropriate technologies
- Integrate devices into a country’s health system and bring them to scale
Improve Newborn Care
- Work closely with Ministries of Health and leading national neonatologists to train clinicians
- Provide equipment, maintenance support, coaching, and monitoring and evaluation
- Educate families on newborn care while their baby is in hospital
Conduct Research & Evaluation
- Collaborate with academic institutes such as Stanford University (USA), University of Trieste (Italy) and Medical University of Padua (Italy)
- Undertake operational and clinical research to improve programs
- Disseminate results via peer-reviewed journal articles
How We Do It
Collaborate with Partners
- Partner with design firms, medical technology companies and INGOs to develop, test and manufacture appropriate neonatal technologies
- Work with Ministries of Health, leading national clinicians and hospital administrators to integrate technologies into existing health systems
- Engage neonatologists, pediatricians and nurses for pro bono services