By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/Umoja Standard.
Makerere University: Alinaitwe Vivian, who is a Biomedical Engineering student in her Fourth year at Makerere University and a student trainee at the Design Cube of Makarere Biomedical Engineering Unit invented a project called the NeoNest. ‘The Neo Nest is a low cost solution for preterm transportation in regards to preventing hypothermia in premature babies’. She says, the reason for this project is that currently in Uganda, babies suffer from hypothermia and the main reason is that when they have to be referred from their health facilities where they are born in case they have medical conditions to referral health facilities, one needs an ambulance but also need extra covering for them, blankets and bed sheets are what is being used, Ambulances report using warm water bags, of which you cannot know the temperature of water they are using.
“This NeoNest comes in to prevent hypothermia during transportation from rural health facilities to referral hospitals in low resource settings, specifically Uganda. This project came up because of the Makerere Design Cube Fellowship, which was my internship project. In my internship work, we developed this to respond to Hypothermia prevention and it has really led us far because as I speak of now we already have a grant to push our project a 5000 Dollar grant to make our project better and to also develop it well and have it get intellectual property.” She highlighted.Alinaitwe Vivian explains how the NeoNest functions to the Delegation from Rotary Club of New Westminster, Canada yesterday at the Design Cube housed at Department of Physiology, Makerere University College of Health Sciences. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
“The key thing about the near nest is that it has a heating mechanism, it’s literally just a heating mechanism that helps the baby to receive heat or to be warm for as long as possible. We have had our accessory, the Nest, distributed to Kawempe National Reefer Hospital to be used in the current infant warmers because it’s like just a cloth, so it’s used for the preterms there to hold them in place and secure them and we are looking forward to make as many as possible to distribute to health facilities because they are affordable.” She added.
Vivian as she explained her project, Grace, part of delegation from the Rotary Club of New Westminster, Canada, said, ‘I need these things for my babies in the infant warmers.’ Vivian realized, they could kill two birds with one stone, they had to first distribute that.
Vivian believes, her project can be taken on by Ministry of Health stressin that the reason as to why they developed the NeoNest, is for it to be of low cost to complement incubators that are so expensive.
She however stressed a challenge of regulation needs like testing which is really a long process but believes that as they are doing that, they can still hope for success of the project.
Currently, Biomedical Engineering Program is hosted at the Department of Physiology for the last 12 years but the College cleared it to get to the Department level, Now the proposal remains with the Senate to see that the program could get all the processes covered and be granted a department.