Project to improve infant health in refugee camps shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020

Monday 07 September 2020

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A Coventry University research project, aiming to develop a wearable, accurate and affordable respiratory monitor for newborn babies in refugee camps, has been shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020.

The first week of life is a pivotal point for infant survival, with respiratory distress syndrome presenting a significant threat of neonatal mortality. The monitoring of infants’ respiratory rates can help to identify several life threatening diseases and illnesses, and early detection can be critical for survival and recovery.

Supported by the Newton Fund, Professor Dingchang Zheng from Coventry University’s Centre for Intelligent Healthcare collaborated with researchers from German Jordanian University to develop an inkjet-printed wearable respiratory rate sensor with long-term biocompatibility. The sensor, which accurately measures the respiratory rate by identifying the chest movement during respiration, could improve the early detection of abnormal respiratory rates in vulnerable children and potentially help to prevent infant death.

The application of this sensor is being extended to the detection of the symptoms of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). During pandemics such as COVID-19, the sensor could play a key role in developing a public health surveillance system by remotely monitoring the respiratory rates of patients. Ultimately, this can help healthcare providers to deliver better services for home-quarantined and isolated patients, reducing hospital admissions, minimizing the risk of virus exposure, and maximizing the efficiency of healthcare system in limited medical and financial resources.

The project has been shortlisted for the Newton Prize, which celebrates outstanding international research partnerships that play an important role in addressing challenges in developing countries and around the world.

We are really excited that this project has been shortlisted for the Newton Prize 2020. If successful, the award would help us lay a solid foundation for a long-term collaboration with Jordanian researchers in the development of cutting-edge wearable healthcare technologies and solutions for monitoring patients with respiratory diseases. This would enable us to address some of the global challenges by translating healthcare innovation from academia to support vulnerable communities.

Professor Dingchang Zheng, Centre for Intelligent Healthcare, Coventry University

The development of wearable healthcare devices would revolutionise public health surveillance systems in Jordan by enabling the involvement of high-tech health monitoring sensors that play a significant role in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19, especially for low-resource communities.

Professor Alaaldeen Al-Halhouli, German Jordanian and Middle East University

The shortlist will be celebrated at a virtual awards event in November 2020, where the winning project in each category will be announced.

Find out more about the inkjet-printed wearable respiratory rate sensor.