Aidex Voices

With the Pumani bCPAP, AidEx 2016 exhibitor Hadleigh Health Technologies is providing premature newborns in low-income countries with affordable respiratory support, which enables more communities to receive the best care for their children. This revolutionary new device has seen them nominated for the 2016 Aid Innovation Challenge. 

In Malawi’s native language of Chichewa, the word “pumani” means to “breathe restfully”. But for premature babies born in low-income countries where many local communities lack the means to afford proper respiratory equipment, breathing easily is not something to be taken for granted.  

Luckily, the aptly named Pumani bCPAP from Hadleigh Health Technologies is helping change this.  

Hadleigh Health Technologies teamed up with healthcare professionals at Malawi’s Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, as well as bioengineers from the the  Rice 360 Institute, and neonatologists and respiratory therapists at Texas Children’s Hospital to develop the Pumani bCPAP. The team evaluated the impact of bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) therapy in Malawi, and found that, compared to standard oxygen therapy, the Pumani bCPAP improves  survival rates by 27%. Not only does the Pumani significantly reduce newborn mortality; it has also been developed to cost only a third of any other bCPAP on the market.  

Hadleigh Health Technologies have therefore made it their mission to distribute as many Pumani bCPAPs as possible within lower-income communities, in order to boost survival rates of premature babies.  

This outreach has had huge success. Since 2013 Hadleigh and partners have distributed over 170 Pumani bCPAP devices to central, district, and mission hospitals in Malawi, which equates to 90% of the country’s public hospitals. 

They didn’t stop there though. Together with Rice University, Hadleigh worked with clinical users in five countries over four years to  improve the Pumani design and make it available worldwide – for only a fraction of the cost of similar devices.  

Thanks to these efforts, the Pumani bCPAP is now being used by 35 hospitals, NGOs and distributors in 23 African and Asian countries. Hadleigh has also made the device available to important humanitarian organisations including Médicins Sans Frontières in Pakistan and Haiti, the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia, USAID’s Maternal and Child Survival Program (MCSP) in Nigeria, the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) in Zimbabwe, and the Limpopo Initiative for Newborn Care in South Africa.  

On top of this, Pumani training programmes now include various presentations, videos and decision-making flowcharts to help healthcare workers ensure that they are using the device properly.  

With affordable medical devices like this, healthcare on both national and local levels is given a boost so that even children in the remotest of communities can receive the best care possible.