FREO2 - oxygen for newborns to save tiny lives

12 August 2013

Dr Bryn Sobott and Professor Roger Rassool from the School of Physics, together with Associate Professor Jim Black from the Nossal Institute, have been awarded a USAID grant for their work on addressing pneumonia in Papua New Guinea.

The team is one of the 53 worldwide winners of the "Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development" competition, led by USAID (the US equivalent of AusAid) and the Gates Foundation, among others.

The project, called FREO2 - Oxygen for Neonates, is a low-cost, low-maintenance, electricity-free oxygen concentrator to assist newborns with oxygen and will help prevent deaths from pneumonia in this vulnerable population. Pneumonia is a leading cause of mortality for children under five years old, and more than 1.6 million children die from it each year, said Dr Sobbott.

"These deaths could be largely preventable if not for the lack of oxygen available to neonates, often due to a lack of electricity to produce oxygen supplies in a particular country," he said.

The team will report back to USAID and the Gates Foundation at the end of the 12-month grant to demonstrate the feasibility of the project and to quantify the number of lives that could be saved. Positive results in the trial may lead to further funding to enable implementation of the project on a global scale.

More information: Saving Lives at Birth website.

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