A Doctor MacGyvered a Shampoo Bottle to Save Infants

A doctor in Bangladesh has gone beyond WHO guidelines to find a better way to treat infant pneumonia.

Dr. Cristi / Image: Rabiul Islam
Dr. Cristi / Image: Rabiul Islam

Last year the leading killer of children five and under was pneumonia, which claimed 920,000 lives. In Bangladesh, pneumonia is responsible for 28% of infant deaths. The low-flow oxygen delivery machines the World Health Organization recommends to treat infant pneumonia cost about $15,000 a piece and aren’t necessarily effective. According to a recent article from The Economist, a doctor in Bangladesh rigged together a discarded shampoo bottle, an oxygen supply, and some tubing to create a makeshift device that’s more effective.

Dr. Cristi, the inventory, and his colleagues conducted trials back in 2015 and published the results. The hospital now uses the technique routinely, and the number of children who die from pneumonia there has fallen by 75%. In addition, the device has cut the hospital’s spending on pneumonia treatment by nearly 90% since the materials cost just $1.25, and the device uses significantly less oxygen than a traditional ventilator.

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