Hypothermia in newborns

How can we lower neonatal hypothermia rates in MSF field projects?

Hypothermia is a major contributor to neonatal morbidity and mortality in low- and middle-income countries. This holds true even in places with warmer climates. Hypothermia can set on quickly and often is not tracked as a negative health factor.

The Japan Innovation Unit is working with several partners to lower hypothermia incidence in MSF facilities and improve outcomes.

For example, the standard protocol to prevent hypothermia is use of an incubator. However, these are ill-suited for low-resource settings. They are expensive and are hard to repair when they break down; need 100% reliable electricity; and require significant training to operate and keep clean.

Together with MSF staff in the field and subject matter experts, we identified the gaps and possibly solutions for hypothermia in newborn babies in low resource settings. We also developed requirements that any solution would have to meet. Any solution needs to easy to use, be effective, context appropriate (e.g. rugged, easy to clean, easy to fix) and appear effective. We also implemented market research to identify any options that were already on the market. This did not yield any results. This fact-finding and solution identification phase was closed by end-2022. Our partners Design that Matters and MTTS Asia have been using the results of this phase to develop a medical device that could fill this gap.

We have also worked with different manufacturers to identify devices that can quickly and accurately identify hypothermia in newborn babies. Several of these devices are now on the market and are explored for use by MSF.

Progress so far

We have determined needs and identified a solution. We will continue to work on this topic to improve patient outcomes.

Neonatal medical care
2016 - current
MSF WACA and MSF Paediatric Working Group

Last update:December 2023


MSF Japan Innovation Team

MSF Japan Innovation Team is providing innovative ideas of solutions to the MSF activities. If you, either as a company or as a professional, have an idea that would be beneficial to our projects as well as patients, please contact us. Your innovative proposal is always appreciated.