Worldwide, almost half of childhood deaths occur in newborns (the first four weeks of life), totalling 2.5 million each year, with the highest risks and slowest progress in Africa. Currently around 28 in every 1,000 babies in Sub-Saharan Africa die in the first month of life. Hundreds of thousands of babies could be saved through a major new global health consortium launched October 2019 which aims to close the newborn care gap in hospitals across Africa.
NEST360° is a new multi-organisation partnership including the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), Rice University’s Rice 360° Institute for Global Health in the US, and the Malawi College of Medicine, as well as leading institutions across Africa which includes the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP). Initially focusing on Malawi, Kenya and Tanzania, the partnership will make a lasting impact, working closely with governments, local health workers and universities.
Most newborn deaths could be prevented by ensuring effective use of lifesaving medical technologies. NEST (Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies) is a bundle of affordable medical devices and diagnostics. NEST devices are selected to address problems that kill newborns, like breathing difficulties, infection, jaundice and hypothermia. These issues especially affect the most vulnerable babies who are born prematurely. Newborn care units in Africa often rely on a random selection of donated medical equipment, not designed for heat, humidity, and electrical surges, resulting in “equipment graveyards.” By delivering one device or one training session at time the problem is perpetuated. Transforming progress in a sustainable way requires a bundle of devices, integrated training for clinicians and biomedical engineers, and locally-owned data to drive quality of care.
At the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programmme the project will managed by the Health Services Unit and lead by Prof. Grace Irimu and Prof. Mike English.
The NEST360°partnership is funded by some the world’s largest private foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the ELMA Foundation.