An innovative way to deliver the quintessential vitamin A to the infants in the developing countries
What is it?
Aye is a innovative way to deliver the quintessential vitamin A to the infants in the developing countries.
Vitamin A deficiency affects about 250 million preschool children in low-income countries that leads to the preventable blindness and other severe sicknesses. This unnecessary suffer can be stopped by provision of high doses of vitamin A every 6 months until the age of 5 years (WHO, 2015)
Knowing this problem, we have used a human-centerer design approach to understand how this problem can be solved. We have collected some stories and inspirations from mothers with infants to learn about the current gaps in the existing delivery of the vitamins or medicines to the babies. We have also checked the current way vitamin A is delivered to the infants in the low-income countries. The process consists of a trained healthcare workers providing vitamin A supplementation in steps to ensure health service standardisation. The vitamin A is stored in a gelatine capsule that should be opened with scissor and manually squeezed into the child’s mouth every 6 months.
We have thought that there must be an easier way to deliver and most importantly re-deliver the vitamin A to the infants. We have also thought about a simple tool helping parents to initiate independent vitamin A supplementation to their babies without the guidance of the specialised personnel.
Aye is a one-unit pacifier that has a compartment where the gel capsule of the vitamin A can be inserted. The capsule will be naturally squeezed by the sucking movement allowing the content of the capsule slowly release into a child’s mouth. The pacifier AYE has also a potential to become a platform for the future unobtrusive delivery of any kind of required vitamin or medicine in a liquid oral form to the infants.
How is it used?
Aye functions as a regular pacifier and additionally can deliver vitamin A orally in a soothing manner.
What technologies does it incorporate?
It is an analog product but using the existing technology of a one-piece unit, this pacifier ensures that there are no cracks where dirt and bacteria can accumulate and is free of joints making it safe for the infants of an early age.
In the blue-sky scenario, Aye can be used to monitor vitamin/mineral deficiency. The pacifier can be used as a tool for the infant’s screening to detect any mineral deficiency. The pacifier will be an independent tool that does not require sophisticated instrumentation to collect the samples. The data is collected through the saliva and transferred wirelessly to the cloud where a remote doctor from the supporting program can monitor child’s health. Clinicians around the world manage the patients from the intuitive web interface with simple charts showing deficiency of one or another micro element.
Potentially it can have also have a case with a UV light to sterilise the nipple.
How does it work?
First step – Educate
In this step we have to educate parents about the device and most importantly about the vitamin A capsules – how they are stored (no fridge but away from the sunlight), how are they opened (tear, no scissors), how inserted inside the pacifier and how later should be disposed.
Second step – Inserting the capsule
The pacified is given to a family with the set of capsules in an easy tear off vacuum packages. These capsules can be stored at home as Vitamin A supplements do not need a cold chain and do not need to be stored in a refrigerator (vitamin angels,2010). Depending on the age of a child, several capsules can be stored at home and unwrapped when time is ripe (every 4-6 months according to vitamin angels, 2015) The cartridge has a hole at the end and sealed in the vacuum wrap preventing contamination, this way vitamin A can be stored without the fridge.
Third step – Re-deliver
Based on Vitamin Angels (2001) dosing schedule, an infant would need to take 1 capsule of 50000 IU (less then 6 months) x 4 months = 3 capsules. The child’s carrier inserts a capsule inside the provided pacifier once every 4 months. As vitamin A has a vanilla flavouring agent we can be safe that the baby will not spit of the pacifier because of unpleasant smell of taste (vitamin Angels, 2010)
Who uses it?
The infant (the wearer) through the supervision of their carers (parents).
Why does it help?
It provides the platform for the multi dose delivery of vitamin A directly from the parents. Aye empowers the carers to initiate independent vitamin A supplementation without the professional assistant.Therefore, by utilising the current medical knowledge of supplementation it targets the delivery aspect. It creates the bottom-up approach and educates the carers to take initiative and be in control of their infants’ health with little or no supervision from the authorities.
Yana Zalesskaya, Dimitrios Stamatis
Health, Child Protection, Nutrition
These pages have been pulled directly from applications submitted to the Wearables for Good Challenge in 2015. They represent the work of the individual teams and have subsequently not been edited.