Leading health technology company Royal Philips and Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Canadian government, recently announced a partnership to scale the manufacturing and distribution of the Philips Children’s Respiration Monitor (ChARM), an innovative technology to improve the diagnosis of childhood pneumonia in poorer countries. The newly signed agreement will hopefully make this technology available and affordable for community-based health workers where healthcare is affected by low resources.
According to the World Health Organization, pneumonia accounts for 15 percent of all childhood deaths under the age of 5. Mortality estimates indicate that in 2015, 922,000 children died of pneumonia. This condition affects children everywhere, but it is especially prevalent in poorly developed areas, such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Royal Philips developed ChARM as part of its commitment to the Every Woman Every Child global movement, an initiative launched by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in 2010, with the aim to mobilize governmental, private sector, and civil society efforts to address the major health concerns faced by women, children, and adolescents around the world.
The ChARM monitor, which is strapped around the child’s chest without touching the skin, accurately measures breathing rates, providing quantitative and qualitative feedback to the health worker based on WHO’s IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) guidelines. The system targets one of the key vital signs for pneumonia diagnosis: the detection of fast breathing rates. The easy-to-use device will include innovations for developing countries — it will be dustproof, water-splash proof, resistant to extreme temperatures, and power-independent, thanks to a long-lasting battery.
“As a leading health technology company, Philips’ vision is to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation,” said Dr. Maarten van Herpen, head of the Philips Africa Innovation Hub, in a press release. “Equitable innovation strategies can help drive sustainable solutions that bridge the divide between the privileged and lesser privileged sections of society, to improve the quality of life for all.
“Thanks to collaborations and co-investments like the one we have signed with Grand Challenges Canada, companies such as Philips can scale innovations that reach an underserved population and thereby integrate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 — ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, into their core business strategies,” he said.
The Philips Children’s Respiration Monitor, estimated to potentially benefit over 100 million children per year, is pending CE-marking and is expected to become commercially available later this year. The $602,000 repayable grant will be matched by Philips, and will finance the market launch of ChARM. It will also support the development of the next generation of the device, which is planned to include pulse oximetry.
Photo Credit: Philips