INDEX: Award-Winning ‘Natalie Collection’ Birth Simulator Could Help Save Millions of Babies Annually

by , 09/01/13

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Everyday, thousands of newborn babies and mothers die of complications during childbirth that can easily be prevented with adequate tools and training. To address this issue, Norwegian company Laerdal Global Health took it upon themselves to develop a series of low cost, life-saving devices that could help teach midwives and birth assistants life-saving skills. Called ‘The Natalie Collection’ the system utilizes three effective, low-cost solutions that focus in on education, hands-on experience, and preventative action. Keep reading to learn more about the collection, which holds the potential to reduce newborn mortality rates by 47% in developing countries. The Natalie Collection was also just announced as one of five winners of the 2013 INDEX: Awards, the world’s biggest design award—big congrats to Laerdal Global Health!

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The main issue that most developing countries face is access to affordable training and education. Though many women act as midwives, many have no idea what to look for, or even what to do, when complications occur during and after childbirth. In addressing this, Laerdal Global Health of Norway took a unique approach and combined industrial design with education. Their Natalie Collection, consists of a trio of durable and affordable products that provide the means and conditions to train skilled professionals. The system is made up of three elements, including:

  • The NeoNatalie Suction is a silicone penguin-shaped suction device to assist with breathing. It is soft and formidable when accessing baby nostrils effectively and safely and can be easily disinfected, all the while being durable and allowing inspection of the suctioned material due to its transparency. The design is inviting and intuitive to use.
  • The NeoNatalie Newborn Simulator is a mannequin that focuses on the important aspects of a baby’s body, targeting important areas midwives should take note of. Details such as weight, head articulation, umbilical pulse, as well as the babies’ breath and heartbeat have been simulated as closely as possible, making the subsequent handling of a real-life baby only a minor adjustment.
  • The Mama Natalie Birthing Simulator is a wearable contraption that simulates a woman’s womb in a realistic, yet culturally sensitive and inoffensive way. Again, only the most important aspects are focused on and aesthetic details are left out to provide the best training possible without distractions. The simulator is also compatible with the use of fake blood in training to deal with post-birth bleeding, which is a leading cause of maternal deaths.

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In essence, the kit acts as a medium for learning by providing practical, hands-on training that equip midwives and birth assistants with invaluable knowledge. Regarding the design, INDEX: Award jury member Ravi Naidoo said: “A pilot would not fly a plane without proper training and flight-simulation. So why should a midwife be any different?”

Moreover, the collection also plays up the importance of participation and teamwork. INDEX: Award jury member Katinka Von Der Lippe explained: “The learning process becomes more playful, and the learning goes much faster when the midwives or birth assistants are part of a role-play. I think the designers and developers at Laerdal understood that the closer to the real situation the training becomes, the more natural the newfound knowledge stays with the midwifes. Since the Natalie Collection is based on practical involvement, language barriers have little impact on the learning process.”

So far, The Natalie Collection has already had a proven and measurable impact. Coupled with training through the Helping Babies Breathe program, use of the NeoNatalie collection in Tanzania has shown a 47% reduction in newborn death due to asphyxia. It goes without saying that the global impact of The Natalie Collection would be phenomenal.

With their INDEX: Award cash win, the Laerdal Global Health plans to invest their money with the International Confederation of Midwives to support the Helping Mothers Survive and Helping Babies Breathe training programs.

+ The Natalie Collection

+ 2013 INDEX: Award

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