Hospital Hack: Kenyan Students’ ‘Maker’ Approach to Saving Babies’ Lives, Helped by Concern Worldwide
The birth of a child can be one of the most joyous moments of one's life. But for mothers in Kenya, pregnancy and childbirth complications pose one of the leading threats to their well being. Even a highly trained staff, such as the one at Kenyatta National Hospital's Newborn Unit in Nairobi, can't make up for a lack of functioning medical equipment. Babies born in the unit often have to sleep two or three to an incubator, which increases their risk of life-threatening infection.
Hospital equipment is damaged or lacking in many developing countries and cannot meet patient demand, placing an immeasurable strain on the doctors and nurses trying to save lives. The parts for these medical devices are not available at local shops, and ordering spare parts from Europe or the U.S. can take too much time. Hospitals like Kenyatta need local solutions so that they can save the lives of both newborns and mothers.
Working with local partners , Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian aid agency, created an innovative program called the Maker Movement for Maternal Newborn and Child Health. The program partners with the University of Nairobi and the Kenyatta National Hospital, pairing university engineers and students with doctors and nurses to locally design high quality, low cost medical devices to better serve these communities.
At first, they focused on three top priorities: an examination light, a suction machine to remove fluid from a newborn's airways, and a phototherapy machine to treat infant jaundice. Maker also provided a calibration center to ensure proper functioning of medical devices and refurbished an existing fabrication lab, fully stocking it with equipment like 3D printers to design and prototype medical devices. The success of this program has been multifold: improving lives and cultivating local talent to create a community of citizens that help and protect each other in this vulnerable part of the world.
The Maker program is just one of the amazing things Concern Worldwide is doing to provide invaluable aid to communities in need. They are a renowned Gold-Star NGO where 92 cents of every dollar is used to support programs in some of the world's most under-resourced countries. From fighting famine in South Sudan to doing their part to improve the lives of local communities like the one in Nairobi, Concern is an organization that provides essential services to people who often have nowhere else to turn.
Since its founding in 1968, Concern has been committed to providing for people like the women in Kenyatta National Hospital, so that they can experience one of life's most beautiful moments, the birth and life of their children. Now, it's our turn to show our concern.