Every year, more than 4 lakh babies are born with Respiratory Distress Syndrome in India, and out of the 4 lakh, about 1.2 lakh die within a few months of birth. Deaths during transport to higher centers of care can be as high as 30%. These high mortality rates can be prevented by the application of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), but unfortunately, these CPAP devices are bulky, require skilled manpower, and are only available at NICU in tertiary care hospitals in major cities in India. This gap was recognized by innovators Nitesh Kumar Jangir, Nachiket Deval, and Basava M Kumar of Coeo Labs, and to address the issue, the trio came up with a neonatal breathing support device called Saans, an electricity independent, low cost, multimodal, neonatal CPAP device to maintain oxygenation and respiration in premature neonates during transport to NICU at a tertiary care center.
Neonatal CPAP devices have already been available in the market for quite a long time, but what makes Saans special is the fact that it is the world’s first multimodal, portable, neonatal CPAP device with multiple powering modes which would enable safe transport of a neonate with Respiratory Distress Syndrome to a NICU (Neonatal intensive care units) at a tertiary care center. The device works on AC supply, DC supply, can be connected to an external oxygen cylinder, and as a fail-safe mode, can be connected to an Ambu bag (bag and mask resuscitator). The device regulates the fluctuation in the input supply to provide air/oxygen at constant flows and pressure which can be set by the physician. This device could also be used in ambulances and will be of significant help in small maternity hospitals, nursing homes, and primary healthcare centers.
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The core team of Saans comprises a mechanical engineer, an electronics engineer, a product designer, and clinical experts from St. John’s Hospital (Bangalore), Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), and Mbarara University (Uganda). Their main focus is to target rural areas and to solve unmet clinical needs in the developing world. The team figured that 70% of India’s medical devices are imported and are only available at renowned hospitals and medical institutions that aren’t affordable for everyone, especially the people living in rural settings. Hence, Coeo Labs aims to bridge that gap by researching various clinical needs that have to be tended to, innovating cost-effective, easy to use medical devices that are affordable for all income levels and at every person’s disposal.
The neonatal breathing support device was one of the winning projects of the 3M-CII Young Innovators Challenge Awards 2016 in the Non-technical. After winning the 3M-CII award, Coeo Labs did gain a lot more recognition, vendors, and shareholder’s belief and willingness to invest in the creation of Saans. At present, the Saans concept has been demonstrated to healthcare providers in over 56 rural hospitals in Karnataka and other parts of India and the response has been overwhelmingly good. The team plans to launch the market in the next 4 to 5 months at a tentative cost of INR 60,000 that is relatively cheaper than the CPAP devices already existing in the market.