Read the original story written by Nigeria Health Watch from which this case study was adapted.
WHO: Tiny Hearts Technologies, a company started by mom and graphic designer Virtue Oboro
THE CHALLENGE: Jaundice—a liver condition caused by a buildup of bilirubin and resulting in yellowing of the skin—disproportionately impacts babies born prematurely. In fact, because their livers are often underdeveloped, preterm babies have an 80 percent chance of having issues clearing bilirubin and developing jaundice, which can cause brain damage or even death if not effectively treated.
In a world where one million childhood deaths result from premature births, ensuring availability of viable and effective treatment for jaundice is critical.
THE OPPORTUNITY: Phototherapy can be used to help break up bilirubin in babies that have difficulty clearing the substance on their own. However, power outages pose a threat to the reliability of the treatment units that provide therapeutic light. This puts newborns in grave danger, as phototherapeutic intervention is extremely time-sensitive. Virtue Oboro experienced this with her son in Southern Nigeria; he nearly lost his life as a result of failed hospital power generators. So, she created Crib A’Glow to help others.
HOW IT WORKS: Crib A’Glow is a novel phototherapeutic system developed by Oboro and Tiny Hearts Technologies. Crib A’Glow is a fully portable unit that is powered by solar panels, eliminating the risk of power outages and allowing for easy transportation to locations where phototherapy is needed.
Critical to the development of innovative lifesaving technologies like Crib A’Glow are robust intellectual property (IP) protections like patents. IP protection ensures that Tiny Heart Technologies can access components that make up Crib A’Glow units, as well as create an environment in which such innovative companies are incentivized and financially sustainable.
With the security afforded to them by IP protections, Tiny Hearts Technologies has expanded beyond Crib A’Glow and founded Yellow Alert, a campaign to raise awareness among soon-to-be mothers about the dangers of jaundice for newborns. It is vital that we continue to support strong IP systems around the world so that companies like Tiny Hearts Technologies continue to have the platform and resources needed to produce lifesaving innovations.