MOM is an inexpensive, electronically controlled, inflatable incubator constructed to decrease the number of premature child deaths within refugee camps.
Every year an estimated 150000 child births occur within refugee camps. Of these child births, 27500 will die due to lack of sufficient incubation.
A recent BBC panorama program based upon Syrian refugees only increased my interest in this problem. They explained how the number premature births and subsequent deaths due to the stresses of war are ever increasing even calling this group 'the lost generation.'
With all the evidence, it presented an opportunity to redesign an incubator specifically for refugees that could also be used within a 3rd world setting.
'Does every child born not have the right to a chance of survival?'
The design allows for many advantages over current incubators used both for refugee camps and in the 3rd world:
.The incubator can currently provide the same performance as 1st world incubation systems (stable heat environment, humidification, jaundice lighting) and complies with British incubation standards.
.The incubator can easily be collapsed and placed into already utilised care packages for easy delivery and transport to refugee camps.
.The electronic components are both reliable and use very little power whilst having the ability to be operated without a mains power source for over 24 hours by using available systems like car batteries.
. The modular nature of the design means separate pieces can be sent for repair if required.
. The very simple control system allows for easy operation of the incubator increasing the likelihood of its effectiveness.
. The inflatable material is not only the best insulator for the heat, but can also be easily wiped down and sterilised for sanitary concerns.
. The transparent panels of the inflatable material allow for easy access to the child at all times.
. Instead of the normal £30000 for a standard incubator, my design can be manufactured, tested and delivered to the camp all for £250.
MOM offers the best and safest possible environment for a pre-term child to thrive in, whilst solving many of the problems of incubating premature children in refugee camps highlighted through my research.
Firstly research into current incubators showed why there is a problem with premature deaths in refugee camps. It was found that they are incredibly expensive (Upwards of £30000) and very large due to the size of the compartment containing the child so cannot be transported easily to the places that need them the most.
Next research conducted with neonatal units and specialists gave me an understanding of what a premature child needs, which were a stable heat environment, humidification and a jaundice light, as many new-borns suffer from the jaundice condition.
Finally research into how refugee camps operated highlighted power concerns and care packages being the primary source of aid for the people and the workers inside.
Initially the idea of using inflatable material as the body of the incubator meant that the design could be collapsible for size issues and saved on cost due to the material being very inexpensive.
With this idea I developed both an electronic prototype and an aesthetic/functional prototype. Testing revealed that the electronic prototype could easily maintain the correct environment for the child. The functional/aesthetic prototype showed that a new born could comfortably fit inside the incubator and all of the electronics used along with the inflatable material could be packaged away inside the casing ready for transport.
I plan to develop the idea further and fine tune the prototypes, so that the final solution is both as effective and reliable as possible.
Glendonbrook enterprise and innovation award 2014
Loughborough University James Dyson Grant