A portable kit in treating babies with jaundice is on trial in a province in Peru. They've been targeting to screen a total of 12,000 and more newborn babies in the next 2 years. Peru is a country in western South America where 90% of public health facilities are incapable of diagnosing and treating diseases in newborns, and this is one of the main reasons why 60% of babies in Peru are affected by Jaundice and left untreated for the past few years. In this country, the rate of jaundice-related brain damage is 20 times higher compared to that of wealthier countries.
Jaundice is a condition caused by bilirubin, an orange-yellow pigment formed in the liver due to hemoglobin breakdown and bile excretion that is most commonly found in the blood of newborns. If this is left untreated, it can cause serious health issues like cerebral palsy and deafness.
Jaundice is considered a serious public health issue in Peru, said by the national director of non-profit development organization Inmed Andes, Fernando Pérez Lastra. Lastra is launching a two-year project with the backing of Peru’s ministry of health.
“In 2016 and 2017, around 20,000 cases of jaundice were reported [nationwide], but in 2018 that figure went up to 31,000. It’s not clear if that jump was from better reporting or if there were simply more cases – but we need solutions. That’s why an intervention like this is so important and so necessary: we have to identify these cases before complications arise.”, Lastra said.
The portable kit consists of three highly advanced technologies:
- Handheld Bilistick
The entire kit is the first complete jaundice health tool. It may look basic, but the health workers in Peru believe that this is the beginning of something better for the newborns' health conditions. This has been tested in other countries such as Burundi, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and India. Though it's the first time that the entire kit will be used together, there's a big hope that it will work well.