Every year more than 1 million newborns die in sub-Saharan Africa; 75% of these deaths are preventable. A primary reason for this high rate of newborn mortality is the gap in the quality of hospital care for small and sick newborns. The hospitals where most mothers in sub-Saharan Africa deliver their babies lack the life-saving technologies, equipment, and trained staff that are necessary to manage preterm babies and newborns in distress.
NEST360° (Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies) is a women-led consortium of 15 organizations—10 of which are based in Africa—that is working with governments to ensure that every hospital in Africa can deliver life-saving care for small and sick newborns. NEST360° aims to reduce 50% of newborn deaths in health facilities through the development and distribution of a bundle of high-quality products and services for newborns at scale across Africa.
1) Delivering a bundle of technologies for newborn care: The NEST bundle consists of 14 affordable, robust, effective medical devices and diagnostic tools that address the needs of small and sick newborns for temperature stability, respiratory support, hydration and nutrition, infection prevention, and neonatal jaundice treatment. Grouping these products together at a greater volume, allows for health systems to provide more effective care at a lower cost, and for developers and distributors to sell or service at lower prices.
2) Building human resources to support newborn care and innovation: In addition to developing innovative technologies, NEST is working with Health Ministries and academic institutions to educate clinicians and technicians on how to use and maintain newborn care tools, engaging with local entrepreneurs to strengthen the pipeline into the marketplace for these tools which creates employment opportunities, and building an ecosystem of innovators to create the next generation of technologies.
3) Developing an implementation guide and investment case to sustain quality newborn care: NEST is working within health systems to refine understanding of how to successfully scale and sustain quality hospital-based newborn care at national level, establishing the blueprint to optimize care of small and sick newborns. NEST will develop an investment case to help health systems planners to advocate for investments in facility-based newborn care, catalyzing investments by donors and governments in these and other countries.
Phase one (2019-2022) will focus on reaching national scale in all 36 district hospitals in Malawi, testing and refining implementation in Kenya, Tanzania, and Nigeria. In Phase 2 (2023-2026), we will implement NEST360° in partnership with governments and organizations in additional sub-Saharan African countries. The holistic NEST360° approach will serve as a proven model to provide sustainable high-quality hospital-based newborn care in Africa, catalyzing change across the continent.
Rice 360° Institute for Global Healthwebsite: https://www.nest360.org/
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COVID-19 is having significant effects on newborn mortality in low and middle income countries; a recent study confirmed anecdotal evidence of a decrease in the number of institutional births during the lockdown and an increase in both numbers of stillborn births and the institutional neonatal mortality rate. The pandemic underscores the importance of strengthening all health systems to provide critical care, including that needed by small and sick newborns, and developing a sustainable supply chain for affordable, robust medical technologies. NEST360° remains committed to its core goals for neonatal survival in sub-Saharan Africa, but is now also leveraging its platform for COVID-19 preparedness and response, including supply chains and trainings for PPE and infection control and invention education to strengthen local innovation in Africa to address the pandemic. As noted by the former President of Malawi during his June 2020 visit to the NEST innovation design studio at Malawi University of Science and Technology, “This crisis has proven that we can become a self-dependent nation, capable of producing technologies that can lead in the world.”
Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response
We recognize the wide-ranging and lasting effects of colonialism in Africa, including how global health and development efforts have historically been implemented. We have sought to practice “respectful global health” by engaging local African partners from the outset. The NEST360° partnership is based on shared ownership, leadership, design, implementation, and responsibility.
We are also committed to learning from and developing the next generation of African innovators who will develop solutions for future global health challenges.