- September 14, 2018
- Posted by: wekebere
- Category: Finance & accounting
We are developing cutting edge healthcare technologies for where they’re gravely needed and will have an incredible impact – vulnerable populations in low-resource countries. Annually, over 46 million newborns in developing countries around the world need interventions for complications that happen before or at birth, 600,000 in Uganda alone. Every wekebere device has the potential to save the life of an unborn for less than $5, once it is produced at scale.
What we are building
Wekebere is a baby hat with a novel sensor array that measures the four most important vital signs for newborns:
- Fetal heart rate
- Uterine contraction
- Blood pressure
We’ve melded the ease of wearables like Fit bits with the medical accuracy of finger clip pulse oximeters in the hospital.
It’s small, it’s simple, and most importantly it’s validated—and we’re making it cheap and suited for the tough environment of a hospital in Uganda. Belt will send the vital sign data wirelessly to a display device running wekebere custom software. There, it is displayed for the doctor or nurse, and alerts them when something is wrong with the babies.
Why Wekebere is needed
Nearly 3 million unborn babies die every year in their first month of life and 98% of these deaths occur in the developing world. Too many unborns continue to die each year, even when there are interventions available to combat the primary causes.
The problem: hospitals in resource-constrained settings are severely challenged by limited manpower, supplies, and equipment. Expectant mothers are especially vulnerable in their last days of pregnancy, and suffer from the strain on resources. These hospitals lack sufficient resources for the devices seen in developed maternal and neonatal units, and lack sufficient staff to manually measure expectant mothers’ vital signs at the necessary intervals. Unborn babies in distress often go unnoticed while nurses are occupied elsewhere. wekebere fills this gap in care by giving a voice to newborns in danger.
After a year of learning about these challenges, speaking with stakeholders, visiting hospitals in Uganda, and lots of prototyping, we are excited to launch our creative solution that is going to revolutionize maternal care in low-resource hospitals.
Where are we today
We are currently rounding the corner on the prototyping stage and are beginning testing and small scale manufacturing.
While we are still iterating (and shrinking) the wearable device design, the software component of the system is fully built out. Our device displays condition of unborn babies’ vital signs, has adjustable alerting thresholds, generates trend plots, exports patient histories, and alerts when vitals are out of range.
We are performing rigorous evaluation for safety and have to demonstrate it for the regulatory process in Uganda. The device is completely safe for newborns: it uses a Bluetooth Low Energy transmitter that is FCC-approved and complies with all safety recommendations.