Newborn jaundice is a very common condition that affects 50-60% of all babies born. However, if left untreated, it can lead to very serious problems such as brain damage or death. Phototherapy treatment has been the standard form of treatment and in the United States, the associated costs have dramatically decreased in recent years, leading to a decrease in infant mortality. In many developing countries however, only a small segment of the population has access to treatment services. In Africa, there is an estimated unmet need of 3.8 million and another 2.8 million in Asia.
With these numbers in mind, a student from Stanford University named Ben Cline set out to create an affordable and efficient LED-based phototherapy device, which has developed into the Brillance project. Brillance is noteworthy and innovative because it can effectively treat 413 babies before the bulb needs replacing as compared to 83 babies on an older, fluorescent-based phototherapy device. The costs associated with maintaining Brillance are much more reasonable as well; both the light bulbs and the machine itself, cost a fraction of what fluorescent devices do.
Brillance has partnered with a technology non-profit called Design Revolution to develop the device and it is being introduced later this year at health clinics in the rural districts of Tamil Andu, India. With all the hype that has been generated about their product, they have started to take pre-orders from doctors and clinics in Liberia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt. The eventual goal is to make the device available to everyone who needs it, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Another amazing idea that is saving lives and changing the world, that’s the power of Open Minds!
-Katia Chikasuye, focus in environmental studies and global health