Improving newborn survival in Africa

The Problem

Worldwide, 40 percent of childhood deaths occur in the first four weeks of life and global progress to improve newborn survival has been slow. In Africa, 85 percent of newborn deaths are due to pre-term birth, complications of labor and delivery, and infections. The vast majority could be prevented by ensuring access to affordable, lifesaving medical technologies that can withstand the harsh environment of resource-poor settings.

The Solution

Rice University aims to ensure that a baby born in Africa has the same chance of survival as a baby born in the United States. It will create and deploy a comprehensive set of Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies (NEST) as effective as those used in high-resource settings, but that cost 10-100 times less. Designed to address the leading causes of newborn death, NEST will allow clinicians to provide quality newborn care in low-resource settings: keeping babies warm, helping them breathe, diagnosing infections, treating neonatal jaundice, managing labor and delivery, and other life-threatening conditions for small and sick babies.

Rice will also establish an education program in country to develop the next generation of health inventors and entrepreneurs. By nurturing an innovation ecosystem, Rice will bring new business models to other low-resource African markets. In six years, Rice will prevent 85 percent of neonatal deaths in Malawi, producing a sustainable roadmap for rapid adoption across the rest of Africa.

MacArthur Managing Director Cecilia Conrad discusses this bold solution.


More Information

View the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health project website ›

Team Partners

  • University of Malawi College of Medicine
  • University of Malawi Polytechnic
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Northwestern Kellogg School of Management
  • 3rd Stone Design

Project Lead 

Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Founder and Director, Rice 360° Institute for Global Health

Twitter: @Rice360atRiceU
Facebook: @BTB.Rice360
YouTube: Rice 360˚ Institute for Global health Technologies

Project Contact
Elizabeth McGuffee
Director of Development and Communications, Rice 360° Institute for Global Health 



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