Improving infant health in low resource settings

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that 60% of neonatal deaths in Zaatari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan were associated with premature birth and its related complications of respiratory distress syndrome, sever acute pneumonia and neonatal sepsis.

A UK-Jordan collaboration has developed a safe, wearable sensor to monitor the respiration rate of newborn babies. The sensor is made using an advanced inkjet printer that can deposit the ink of silver nanoparticles with high accuracy, creating conductive patterns that detect respiratory movement. The sensor is cheap and easy to use, making it suitable for infant healthcare in low-resource settings. It can be used remotely to detect respiratory rate in daily activities and is convenient for long-term monitoring.

The project has established a new line of research and a world-class multidisciplinary network in the region, attracting outstanding early-career researchers and increasing the international standing of the team involved. As a result of its successful implementation, the team partnered with the University of Jordan Hospital to investigate the sensor’s use to detect the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

Now the team want to assess whether the sensor could play a key role in supporting the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by remotely monitoring the respiratory rate of home-quarantined and isolated patients. This would reduce hospital admissions, limit the risk of virus exposure and support healthcare systems with limited resources.

Next, the team want to adapt and field test the device as well as develop data processing technologies for a public health surveillance system that connects clinicians, decision makers and healthcare officials to achieve early intervention and better distribution of medical resources.

Goal-orientated scientific research has always been my primary focus, especially for providing better healthcare solutions in underprivileged communities. I have a responsibility towards all refugees who seek peace in Jordan

Professor Ala'aldeen Al-Halhouli, German Jordanian University & Middle East University, Jordan

This project was shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020.

Watch a short film about the project on YouTube.

Inkjet-printed respiratory rate wearable sensors for infants: Towards remote monitoring solutions for low-setting villages and refugee camps

Project leads: Professor Dingchang Zheng, Coventry University, UK and Professor Ala’aldeen Al-Halhouli, German Jordanian University & Middle East University, Jordan

Delivery partners: Royal Academy of Engineering, UK and the Industrial Research and Development Fund of the Higher Council for Science and Technology, Jordan

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