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GE Healthcare to distribute infant warmers in rural India

Bangalore, Dec 17 (IANS) Global medical equipment maker GE Healthcare Friday announced that it would soon distribute low-cost infant warmers in rural India in partnership with social enterprise Embrace to help improve rural infant care.

The warmer, in the form of a small sleeping bag, not only keeps infants warm for hours, but also helps protect them from hypothermia, a reduction in core body temperature below 95 degree Fahrenheit (35 degree Celsius).

‘As a sleeping bag, the warmer swaddles the baby with a wax pouch in an adjacent compartment that is heated via an electrical heater,’ GE Healthcare vice-president Mike Barber said in a statement here.

The $16-billion company, a subsidiary of General Electric Company (GE), will distribute the product in India from March 2011 .

Founded by a team of engineers and business graduates from Stanford and Harvard Universities, the US-based Embrace aims to give every child an equal chance for a healthy life through an innovative low-cost infant warmer.

The Embrace infant warmer is priced about $200 or one percent of conventional incubators that cost up to $20,000. It also works on batteries.

‘As we are focused on the healthy-imagination tenets of reducing cost while improving quality and access through local solutions, the partnership with Embrace offers us an opportunity to provide maternal-infant care to check infant mortality,’ Barber said.

About 20 million low birth weight babies are born each year, mostly in the developing world, and are prone to hypothermia due to insufficient fat beneath the skin.

‘The infant warmer is one potential solution to help keep babies warm and address the risks of hypothermia,’ Embrace chief executive Jane Chen said in the statement.

In alignment with the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, GE is focusing its efforts on MDG 4, reducing by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate by 2015.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 50 percent of global births occur in under served urban settings where access to affordable technology remains limited. Read from the publisher

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