About three million children die within one month of life each year in the world. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Among the causes of neonatal mortality, hypothermia (low body temperature) is one of the most important in developing countries, even though up to 40% of deaths associated with hypothermia could be prevented by simple and appropriate thermal management. Skin-to-skin contact (“kangaroo mother care”) that is advocated as the first line intervention to prevent hypothermia is not always possible, especially when phototherapy is also required for the treatment of jaundice.
Most existing medical devices existing for industrialized countries cannot fulfill – or be adapted to fulfill – the technical specifications of the context of district hospitals in developing countries. Neither can they fulfill the stringent requirement of a radical reduction of the “cost of ownership” (total cost of the device during its complete lifecycle). Attempts have been made to develop appropriate incubators or simplified infant warmers. They suffer from a series of drawbacks like inability to be carried into industrial production and solutions not meeting safety standards.