Can an app prevent children from dying?
Despite the existence and implementation of proven, cost-effective interventions such as vaccination and community-based preventive measures for more than two decades, pneumonia is still responsible for more deaths than any other disease in children under 5 years of age. In addition, sub-optimal treatment of pneumonia is common, resulting in many preventable deaths. The Pneumonia Gap: The Global Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Pneumonia (GAPP) initiated by the WHO and UNICEF has recognized that instead of finding new interventions for pneumonia, the integrated global research priority should be on removing barriers to healthcare, and seeking access for children in low-income countries.
An important specific indicator of severe pneumonia is hypoxemia, a low (< 90%) blood oxygen saturation level. Hypoxemia is also known to be the single greatest risk factor for pneumonia-related death. However, the use of pulse oximetry in low-income countries is limited by the high initial equipment cost and the ongoing costs of repairs for the current commercial oximeters.
The pneumonia diagnostic kit includes vital signs monitoring and triage models required to quickly diagnose and assess childhood pneumonia by community healthcare workers. The pneumonia diagnostic kit is designed for low-resource health care settings and not available for sale in the US.
Every year, more than two million kids die from infectious diseases before they reach the age of five. Pneumonia, malaria, diarrhea: all of these diseases go through a general deterioration that affects the entire body, including the lungs. That’s where we think this technology can be used to detect early on when these children are likely to develop complications. Our research and technology have put us on the precipice of tremendous change, reducing global health inequities.
Dr. Mark Ansermino
BC Children’s Hospital