Problem solving in rural hospitals Thailand

  • #1
Hey everybody,

I have a case with which you might be able to help me out a little bit.

Together with 5 fellow students I am trying to solve a problem existing in rural hospitals in Lampang (Thailand). The problem there is that they don't have enough money to purchase a proper system to support premature and Ill baby's. The actually use beanbags that are heated in the microwave.
Every year lot's of baby's die because of this lack of resources.

Our team wants to come up with a solution for this problem. This might be a really cheap and accessible version of our advanced incubators, but it could also be something totally new, or maybe even some sort of service.

The reason I post this message on the forum is to increase the amount of people that are thinking with me to get closer to the solution.

Maybe some of you have useful ideas, or knowledge you want to share with us.
We are currently looking for cheap ways to create some kind of enclosure/embracement that can create, maintain and monitor a constant temperature, and humidity.
Thinking about using electrical blankets or something similar. Maybe we can monitor by connecting patches to the baby's body and using Ipad's for displaying the temperature, hart rhythm etc. of the baby.

We just started working on the project last Thursday so we are nowhere yet. It is a actual problem however, and if we as a team succeed to come up with a good solution within three months, we have a chance of going to Thailand to implement the novelty.

If people are interested in this project, I would be glad to post about the progress and upcoming questions once in a while, and maybe receive some input from your side.

Looking forward to your replies.


Pieter Doevendans

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Gold Member
Hello Pieter Doevendans! Welcome to Physics Forums. Using Google search I found these three possible incubators you may use to save premature babies' lives.

1. In developing countries, low birth weight babies don't always have the luxury of an incubator to help them. Hopefully this $25 Embrace Infant Warmer can become a viable alternative, it was successfully tested on its first baby a week ago.

2 A nonelectrical human incubator for premature infants has been designed and built for use in rural areas of developing nations where electricity is not readily available. This incubator may be operated using kerosene or gas as the source of energy. The unit uses an automatic self-activating regulator which controls the flow of hot water through a simple heat exchanger; the air in the incubator is heated by natural convection, and the humidity is adjusted by water evaporation. The temperature inside the incubator can be maintained to within±0•3°C of the desired level. The unit operates for extended periods of time with little or no supervision.

3. Premature infants make up 25% of all births in developing countries and are usually born outside of a hospital. The World Health Organization and Engineering World Health have stressed the need for a transportable infant incubator designed for use in developing countries. The goal of this project is to create a device which protects and incubates an infant while being transported to a hospital. The device needs to be economical, robust, and use easily replaceable parts. The heating mechanism will use computer fans, a humidifier, and car headlights to provide heat. The temperature will be automatically maintained by a proportional integrative derivative (PID) controller. Large temperature deviations and low battery charge will be announced through an audible alert. The base will be made of aluminum due to its low cost and durability. The bassinet cover will be polycarbonate due to its low thermal conductivity and strength. A theoretical MATLAB model of the preterm infant and incubator will be implemented to evaluate the performance of the design. Testing goals will include finding average power consumption, times to reach target temperature (33.5°C), and the safety of the device.
  • #3
Hello Bobbywhy,
Thank you very much for you help and answer. This gives me some more ideas on the possible solutions. I actually heard about the Embrace before. This seems to be a very good solution. However it does not include active control. By designing a system that can be monitored and actively adapt to changing environmental circumstances, we might be able to improve the system. In that sense the third system seems to be better equipped.
I'm also thinking about how to control the humidity, since this is a huge challenge that is not solved by the embrace system. It would be interesting if we can find something that can control humidity and temperature, so that we can try to maintain the heat index at a constant rate.

Again thanks a lot for you support!
  • #4
  • #5
Science Advisor
Baby Incubator said:
The actually use beanbags that are heated in the microwave.
Better than bean bags would be a wax, fat or oil that melts at say 34°C. Significantly more heat is available from a phase change than is available from the thermal capacity for the same mass. Once heated the temperature will remain stable until all the material has again solidified.

Some possible choices would be;
35.0°C. Palm oil.
34.1°C. Cocoa butter.
32.2°C. Butterfat from cows milk.
25.1°C. Coconut oil.
  • #7
Hey Sci Advisor,

Thanks fore those links.
You are right about the kangaroo care. We want to use this as long as the baby is stable.
The reason that I'm looking for an element is when the baby gets an attack and needs CPR for example.
At that point we cannot keep the baby on the mothers chest. We want to have a surfice to put the baby on for giving CPR that can be heated. I don't want to rely on electricity, so actually Hot Pack would be good solution, but I cannot find if these are applicable (meaning reusable, cheap, reliable).

Kind regards,

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