As the world marked the World Pneumonia Day, a company, Royal Philips, has introduced a new diagnostic device to help prevent childhood pneumonia deaths in low-income countries.
The device is an automated breathing rate monitor which aims to diagnose main causes of death among children under the age of five.
Royal Philips on the occasion of the World Pneumonia Day announced the forthcoming release of a Children Automated Respiration Monitor, aimed at improving the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia in low-income countries.
It is expected to prevent 935,000 childhood pneumonia related deaths each year.
Manufacturer of the device said it has the potential to assist community health workers in establishing a more accurate measurement of a sick child’s breathing rate to help improve the diagnosis of pneumonia.
Each year, pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and remains the leading infectious cause of death among under-five children, killing nearly 2,500 children a day, with most victims under two years of age.
Every 35 seconds, a child dies of pneumonia, with 99 percent of deaths occurring in low-resource settings in developing countries, which are typically rural with poor healthcare facilities and where treatment is not available for many children.
One important aspect in diagnosing pneumonia is monitoring a child’s breathing rate. In many emerging markets, community health workers manually count through visual inspection, how many breaths a child takes in the span of one minute. But achieving an accurate count can be difficult, as shallow breaths are hard to detect, children often move around and there may be distractions and other checks to perform.
The Children Automated Respiration Monitor converts chest movements detected by accelerometers into an accurate breathing count, using specially developed algorithms. The monitor not only provides quantitative feedback, but also qualitative feedback to the healthcare provider based on the World Health Organisation’s Integrated Management of Childhood Illness, IMCI, guidelines to diagnose fast breathing rates, which is one of the key vital signs to diagnosing pneumonia.
Accurate diagnosis of breathing counts would support health workers in administering antibiotics that children with pneumonia need, preventing many of the deaths caused by pneumonia each year. Additionally, accurate diagnosis could help rationalise the use of antibiotics by potentially reducing unnecessary costs and overuse rates which contributes to the rise of drug-resistant diseases.
“The monitor will be a game changer in diagnosing and treating pneumonia. If we can remove the subjectivity associated with health workers counting breaths, we can improve the quality of treatment and help improve patient outcomes,” Salim Sadruddin, Senior Child Health Advisor at Save the Children, said.
Global child health organisations like the United Nations International Children’s Fund, UNICEF, have made pneumonia a key area of focus in their effort to reduce child mortality in underdeveloped countries throughout the world. UNICEF’s supply chain division’s product innovation project called ARIDA(6), launched a call for technology to industry in 2011, with the aim to achieve innovation in this space, followed by the publication of a Target Product Profile (TPP)(7) for automated respiration monitoring in November 2014.
“As a leading health technology company, Philips’ vision is to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation. Today, the population growth is highest in emerging markets like Africa and South-East Asia, and innovation can help drive sustainable solutions that bridge the divide between the privileged and lesser privileged sections of the society to improve the quality of life at all levels,”, JJ van Dongen, CEO Philips Africa, noted.
The development of Philips Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor was as a result of collaboration between Philips Africa Innovation Hub located in Nairobi, Kenya, Philips Research team in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore, India. Field testing on the monitor was conducted in East Africa and India and improvements in design and technology incorporated on the basis of feedback from local community health workers and clinical officers in these low-resource settings.
The monitor, which is expected to be commercially available in the second quarter of next year, is pending CE-marking.

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