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Neonatal Healthcare

Introduction: More than 20 million low-birth-weight (LBW) babies are born every year, mostly in developing nations, with around 8 million in India (“Low birth weight”, 2004). The LBW babies are not able to regulate their own body temperature and need external means to stay warm, medically known as hypothermia. UNICEF (2004:1) claims that: 'LBW is closely associated with foetal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, inhibited growth and cognitive development, and chronic diseases later in life.' Many of these babies could be saved with an incubator or radiant warmer, but currently available incubators and radiant warmers are expensive and its treatment is not affordable by everyone. Embrace website (2010) states that: 'Traditional incubators cost up to $20,000.'

Premise: This was a need finding research project which attempts at understanding the core issues plaguing neonatal healthcare amongst the urban sector in India, the approach taken to understand these issues and the implications of the approach. It points out the opportunity for design interventions at various junctures. An attempt has been made to go deeper into the practical problems being faced by the various stakeholders - Mother and family (father, mother-in-law, and maternal members), Doctor and support staff (nurses, attendants), Public health officer/NGO and support staff (aanganvadi and community level health workers), and Baby products shopkeepers.

Process: The research takes into account the demographic breakup, socio-economic and cultural environments and emotional needs of the stakeholders. Extensive field visits, qualitative interviews in naturalistic environments, contextual inquiries and innovative analytics post that led to strong insights that point to interesting design directions. Video, photo and audio documentation was done to rebuild the scenarios during the analysis phase.

Outcome The entire research was converged and distilled into 2 point of views that suggest a definitive direction in solving the problems in neonatal healthcare with design intervention through product, service and technology intervention.

Published and presented at DRS Bangkok 2012