The New York Times has an interesting article up on the car parts incubator: a low-cost baby incubator designed for easy maintenance and repair meant for third-world country use. The basic concept is that while impoverished countries frequently get hand-me-downs of decent used medical equipment, they often don’t know how to maintain or even run it. Machines will break-down, or be shipped without a manual. The car parts incubator is literally made from car parts, and its inventor is hoping that it can be maintained by local auto mechanics. Here’s more from the article:
The heat source is a pair of headlights. A car door alarm signals emergencies. An auto air filter and fan provide climate control.
…The creators of the car parts incubator — a project being promoted by the Global Health Initiative at the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, or Cimit, a nonprofit consortium of Boston teaching hospitals and engineering schools — say it could prevent millions of newborn deaths in the developing world.
The main causes of newborn death — infections, preterm birth and asphyxiation — are readily treatable with the right expertise and equipment, said Dr. Kristian Olson, principal investigator on the project. He called them the “low-hanging fruit” of global health interventions.
…In the car parts incubator, infants born at 32 weeks’ gestation or longer can receive supplemental oxygen while their lungs gain strength, antibiotics if they have infections, and low-lit quiet in which to sleep if their mothers are away or are otherwise unable to hold them. In an emergency, the incubator’s bassinet can be removed and carried to another part of the building or even to another hospital.
…What resulted was a serious-looking gray-blue device that conjures up a cyborg baby buggy, but fits comfortably in hospitals and clinics with few resources. For one thing, the supply of replacement parts is virtually limitless, because the modular prototype can be adapted to any make or model of car.