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Reverse Innovation Can Help Millions of Mothers Save Their Newborns

Words by 3p Contributor
New Activism
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Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Unreasonable.is

By Nate Beard

The hour-long car ride from rural Bhaktakheda, India, to the community health clinic in Uttar Pradesh was turmoil for Kiran Devi. Upon arrival, her infant was stabilized, but still suffered an all too common risk — hypothermia.

Luckily, the staff at the local hospital was prepared thanks to a life-saving product made possible by Embrace Innovations. The company is taking to market a technology as effective as an infant incubator at less than two percent of the typical incubator.

This story of a struggling hypothermic baby in developing markets is unfortunately not uncommon. “This is the reality faced by 15 million babies every year, the world over,” says co-founder and president, Rahul Panicker. “And 3 million die during the first month of life.” The global problem is recognized by World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) where 17 percent of all underweight children under 5 die.

“Normal room temperature to these babies feels like ice-cold water,” explains Panicker. To solve this, the Embrace Warmer — looking like a tiny a sleeping bag — includes proprietary technology inserted into the bottom of the warmer that stabilizes the temperature of the infant. This technology is just as effective as a regular incubator, but where a typical incubator costs $20,000, Embrace’s comes in at a cost of roughly $300.

The company has reached 150,000 infants so far, but in order to reach millions of infants around the world, the Embrace team needed to find a faster way to scale. Unexpectedly, they found that model in the U.S. “After four years of living in India, I returned to San Francisco where all my friends seemed to be having babies," says Jane Chen, CEO and co-founder of Embrace Innovations. "Hanging out with them, I noticed they were constantly worried about their babies’ temperature.” The deep passion and understanding Chen had developed for neonatal care, coupled with the proprietary technology the Embrace team had developed for those in poverty, led Chen and a team of designers to create the Little Lotus product line.

This new product line — consisting of a swaddle, sleeping bag and blanket with NASA-inspired technology — keeps babies at the perfect temperature, but it is also a Toms-inspired, one-for-one business model that delivers Embrace Warmers to mothers and health clinics unable to afford them. In other words, if you purchase a Little Lotus, that will ensure more children, like Devi’s, will have access to the Embrace Warmer.

“I hope we are able to help millions of lives through the Embrace warmers and Little Lotus,” says Chen looking forward, “and that we continue to innovate on products that help address infant and maternal mortality.”

Image courtesy of Embrace Innovations

Nate Beard is the producer and editor of content for Unreasonable.is and is dedicated to empowering those around him with information and resources.

3p Contributor

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