Hospitals in Uganda and in many developing countries are unable to afford working incubators. Hospitals and clinics in Uganda rely on donated incubators that quickly become non-functional. Many neonates are born into a world with temperatures well below what they have been used to for many trimesters and may quickly become hypothermic. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of functioning incubators and other efficient and viable methods of warming. Because of this situation, many neonates born in Uganda are hypothermic. The two main functional requirements for IncuVive are 1.) quickly raising a neonate’s temperature to 37 °C; and 2.) maintaining that temperature for as long as possible. Maintaining a neonate’s temperature at 37 °C for an extended period is beneficial because hospitals and clinics in Uganda often have a limited number of nurses available.
Creating a device for developing nations means that we have numerous constraints shaping our designs.
The most significant constraint is that our device needs to be low cost. Indeed, our final prototype costs roughly $98 US. However, this cost can be reduced to less than $50 US with mass production as well as replacing some components with cheaper components available in low-resourced areas.
Through the use of widely available and inexpensive parts we can be assured that if our device fails it can be repaired locally.
Our device is intuitive and easy to use so that health personnel with various backgrounds and training can use it.
Additionally, our device is versatile and usable in a variety of different incubators and cribs.
Currently neonates are wrapped in blankets in order to keep them warm. Swaddling also simulates the enclosed environment of the womb the neonate is so accustomed to.
This method does not keep the neonates at 37 °C and makes it hard to monitor breathing problems. Our device provides a method of heating neonates that allows for high visibility.
Lastly, our device is easily sterilized with ethanol wipes.