Buyers Guides for Respiratory and Oxygen Support Products

Importance of Respiratory and Oxygen Support for Newborn

Despite progress in reducing infant and child deaths over the past twenty years, an estimated 6 million children and young adolescents die each year, most of which are from preventable causes such as birth complications, pneumonia, diarrhea, neonatal sepsis, and malaria. The highest risk occurs in the first month of life, with newborn mortality representing the majority of infant and child deaths globally. (1)

Every year, approximately 1.5 million babies and children die from causes related to Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS), pneumonia, asphyxia, sepsis, and other infections. For preterm babies, RDS is especially dangerous due to insufficient lung development, in which there is a deficiency of lung surfactant that is needed to keep the lungs from collapsing (alveolar collapse). These respiratory conditions can result in hypoxemia, which is low levels of oxygen in the body. Despite its importance in acute severe illnesses, hypoxemia is often not well recognized or managed in settings where resources are limited. Depending on the resources at the healthcare facility and patient requirements, the providers will need to decide on a breathing support, or ventilation strategy, that is gentle enough and effective enough to help the baby breathe, and avoids oxygen toxicity, all of which will depend on the baby’s size, health status, and if the baby is doing some of his or her own breathing already.

To reduce newborn and child deaths from respiratory illnesses, health workers must know the clinical signs of hypoxemia, and have access to supplemental oxygen and respiratory support devices as essential life-saving treatment options. VIA’s Buyers Guides for Respiratory and Oxygen Support include specific respiratory devices as well as basic supplemental oxygen but the skills of the health workers, infrastructure of the health care environment, and local policies and guidelines are the most important factors in selecting the appropriate solutions.

Types of Solutions for Respiratory and Oxygen Support

Breathing support and oxygen therapy are cornerstones of care for newborns who may be having difficulty making the transition from fetal to neonatal life, and for treating infants who are experiencing other respiratory infections or acute illness. Newborn respiratory care, either through non-invasive respiratory support or mechanical ventilation, will depend on health care workers with variable backgrounds, health care facilities with different levels of resources, and the need to treat a variety of respiratory problems and populations both non-invasive and more invasive devices and strategies. 

 

Oxygen is essential for treatment of hypoxemia; and with adequate tools and regular training, respiratory and oxygen support can be life-saving. Such tools include:

  • Sources of oxygen: including concentrators, cylinders, or pipelines, which can offer the most consistent and cost-effective supply of oxygen in health facilities.
  • Respiratory Support Devices such as bCPAPs, resuscitators, suction devices, and ventilators
  • Oxygen Accessories for Delivery, and Regulation methods: airway interfaces, tubing, flowmeters and flowsplitters, humidifiers, and blenders
  • Oxygen Monitoring with Pulse oximetry: pulse oximeters are critical for diagnosing hypoxemia and monitoring oxygen saturation 

Ensuring that sick newborns and premature babies are sufficiently healthy and ready to go home requires a holistic and integrated system of technologies that includes everything from supplemental oxygen (either produced locally at a health facility or delivered and stored) and devices for flow regulation and conditioning of oxygen which provide breathing support, to consumables for oxygen delivery to the patient. In addition, pulse oximetry is used to detect hypoxaemia and monitor oxygen saturation during oxygen therapy for respiratory difficulty. Finally, devices for continuity of power and power quality, devices for monitoring oxygen concentration, and spare parts for equipment maintenance, along with the capacity to maintain them, are also essential components of effective oxygen systems.

Adopted from WHO-UNICEF technical specifications and guidance for oxygen therapy devices. 2019

Depending on the resources at the healthcare facility and patient requirements, the providers will need to decide on a breathing support, or ventilation strategy, that is gentle enough and effective enough to help the baby breathe, and this will depend on the baby’s size, health status, and if the baby is doing some of his or her own breathing already.   Outlined below are technologies that provide breathing and oxygen support for newborns, and VIA Buyers Guides for products* as a resource for purchasing decision-making.

Related Buyers Guides

VIA Global Health is committed to supporting health systems access affordable and appropriate medical products to improve the health in their communities. Products included in our Buyers Guides are available for purchase at VIA Global Health

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