Improving newborn care globally
28 January 2020
Around 2.5 million children die annually in their first month of life. To address this, UCL co-created Neotree – an app for all healthcare workers, producing a suggested diagnosis and management plan according to national neonatal guidelines.
Each year, around 2.5 million children die in their first month of life – one million of which die on their day of birth. Around 70% of newborn deaths are preventable by implementing low-cost solutions effectively. Therefore UCL’s multi-disciplinary work with industry partners seeks to reduce this shocking statistic through the creation of the Neotree app.
The Neotree app was co-created by Dr Michelle Heys (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health) as the principal investigator. It is a mobile app providing healthcare workers with expert guidance on neonatal care and diagnosis in areas with limited access to resources. Developed and tested in Malawi, this agile, feasible and accessible tool is currently being rolled out to other African countries.
The app is suitable for all healthcare workers, producing a suggested diagnosis and management plan according to national neonatal guidelines to improve the quality of newborn care and reduce newborn mortality. The wider aim is to increase rates of newborn survival in under-resourced health care settings and to improve the quality of newborn care.
This has been a truly collaborative project and co-creation has been key to the further development and testing of the app. Since 2017, the app has been tested in Malawi and later Zimbabwe. It has been highly successful with staff such as Dr Simbarashe Chimuya from Harare Central Hospital, Zimbabwe describing NeoTree as having “the life-saving power of a drug… by [helping] us use limited resources as effectively as possible”.
As well as collaborating between different UCL departments, such as Institute for Global Health and Computer Science, the project team have worked with industry partners to take this project forward and will continue to do so. The researchers plan to gather data for the app’s large scale use over the next years.
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Image credit: Illustration by Studio Imeus