Pulse oximetry to guide oxygen therapy in neonates born at a resource-limited hospital in Nairobi, Kenya

Investigator: Melissa Morgan Medvedev, MD, MSc, PhD

Location(s): Kenya


In developing countries, prematurity and severe infections account for a substantial proportion of neonatal deaths. Pumwani Hospital is the main maternity facility in Nairobi, Kenya, providing care to approximately 22,000 women and their babies annually in a resource-constrained setting. Pulse oximetry is a simple, cost-effective tool that can determine the need for oxygen in sick newborns in whom oxygen may be life saving. Further, pulse oximetry can be used to titrate oxygen to provide the optimal ‘dose’ for neonates, thereby reducing the risk of hyperoxia-associated toxicity. The RAP Global Health Policy Award will support the implementation of neonatal pulse oximetry at Pumwani Hospital through a 2-phase study. Phase 1 will establish the normal range for oxygen saturation measurements among clinically well term, preterm, and low birth weight neonates born at an altitude of 1,800 meters. Phase 2 will measure the efficacy of training hospital staff and mothers to provide tailored oxygen therapy to sick newborns. If this approach proves successful, it could be widely disseminated in resource-limited settings.