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National Winner

ASHA

The ASHA concept is designed with an aim to reduce the infant mortality rate, in about 8 million babies that are born with low birth weight (less than 2.5kg) in rural parts of India each year.

  • This device would be given to all ASHA s for free by local hospital, to monitor the babies locally.

  • This video describes the about the role of ASHA workers and the use of the child monitoring device.

    This video describes the about the role of ASHA workers and the use of the child monitoring device.

  • The ASHA worker measures the child's body temperature with a 'non touch infrared thermometer'.

  • The ASHA marks the height and weight of the baby on the WHO growth chart providing visual feedback.

  • The baby's weight is measured by one click of a button with the baby in its own personal blanket.

  • The local ASHA worker visits the baby's home once a week for first 10 weeks, to monitor the vitals.

What it does

ASHA is a simple device, that helps to measure the basic vitals of ‘low birth weight babies’ and keep a track of their progress, by the locals themselves in remote rural parts of India. This solution will help decrease child mortality by ensuring on time care.


Your inspiration

About 7.8 million babies are born with low birth weight each year in rural India with a 20% mortality rate due to lack of hygiene, illiteracy, poverty and poor infrastructure. During my field research in a village, I learned that a local study done by social workers showed a steep fall of baby’s mortality rate (20% to 5 %), by monitoring the basic vitals of the baby followed by counselling to the mother locally at their homes. This grass root level approach inspired me to help the local women in the villages to be able to perform the same task as that of the social workers, easily and accurately to ensure on time care to the new born.


How it works

The users are the ASHA (Accredited social health activists) workers. They are women from the rural community who act as the bridge between the local hospital and the patients in the villages. There is 1 ASHA for every 1000 people in India. The solar powered hand-held unit functions both as a digital scale and as a touch-less infrared thermometer to avoid cross contamination when measuring body temperature. The easy to clean ABS body is designed to be simple, rugged, dependable, and yet elegant. The personal baby blanket (with imprinted WHO growth charts) is given to each 'low birth weight new born' at the hospital birth date stamped on it. The local ASHA visits the baby and the mother each week at their home with her unit and marks the measured vitals on the growth chart directly on the blanket. The blanket is securely designed for weighing the baby as well. Based on the reading the mother is counselled accordingly. (if the baby needs a doctor’s care).


Design process

I started with the field study to grasp the scenario, focus on problem areas and find the design opportunity that lead me to a solution. The local doctors said that it is important that the monitoring of these low birth weight babies start in the grass root level and i.e. their homes to create awareness among the people and ensuring on time care to the babies in needed be. Since ASHAs (also a local of the village) are the only bridge between the nearest hospital and the community, it was important that they monitor the child accurately. I started to develop prototypes that would be portable and compact, something iconic to what the people can relate to, but also very simple for a lay man to use in such harsh conditions. My initial prototype had different devices put together. But then it developed to different feature in one device. It would be powered by solar energy hence self-sustainable. There are no moving or open parts to increase shelf life and avoid dirt accumulation making it easy to clean. The imprinted growth chart on the personal blanket becomes the only document of the baby on with the ASHA track the baby’s progress. The combination of simple and existing know how put together in right the way for the right situation, helped me get closer to the solution.


How it is different

During my research I saw how using existing devices were bulky and complicated to use by the ASHA's in rural India. After understanding the role of the ASHA and her needs, this tool would be different from the existing products because it is portable, accurate, rugged device that is sustainable (solar powered), and easy to use by any uneducated user in the villages designed to withstand harsh environments. This would help the ASHA get the credibility she deserves with the accurate visual feedback she provides to the mother about her child after monitoring it. The body temperature and weight are obtained with one touch of a button and she simply marks (not required writing) it in the growth chart printed on the personal baby blanket (document of the child). This simple combination of technology will not only help the ASHA’s get credibility but will also help save the lives of millions of children across India.


Future plans

Even though my research study was local to a specific area in India, the solution can be applied nationwide. With about 1 million ASHA workers (users) in India, it can surely be scaled up to the national level or even other countries with similar problems of child mortality. The next steps include a deeper dive in the health system in different states in India, resulting into extensive field visits, looking for funding’s/ investors, user study, prototyping and testing and product refinement with a business model by understanding the needs of the client i.e. the health department of the state would be necessary to achieve soon.


Awards

In the recent past my concept received a few awards such as, Red Dot, IF, Idea Award and Braun prize. I believe that these recognitions would help me find resources/ funds to help me further develop this project into a reality that would impact the lives of families and their children living in remote rural India.


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