On the occasion of World Pneumonia Day, Philips announced the upcoming release of a Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor. This monitor is aimed at helping to improve the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia in low-resource countries, potentially preventing many of the 935,000 childhood deaths caused by pneumonia each year. The Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor has the potential to assist community health workers in establishing a more accurate measurement of a sick child’s breathing rate to help improve the diagnosis of pneumonia.

An important aspect in diagnosing pneumonia is monitoring a child’s breathing rate. In many emerging markets, community health workers manually count through visual inspection, how many breaths a child takes in the span of one minute. But achieving an accurate count can be difficult, as shallow breaths are hard to detect, children often move around and there may be distractions and other checks to perform.

The Philips Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor converts chest movements detected by accelerometers into an accurate breathing count, using specially developed algorithms. The monitor not only provides quantitative feedback, but also qualitative feedback to the healthcare provider based on the World Health Organization’s IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) guidelines to diagnose fast breathing rates, which is one of the key vital signs to diagnosing pneumonia.

Accurate diagnosis of breathing counts would support health workers in administering the antibiotics that children with pneumonia need, potentially preventing many of the deaths caused by pneumonia each year. Additionally, accurate diagnosis could help rationalize the use of antibiotics, by potentially reducing unnecessary costs and antibiotics overuse rates, which contributes to the rise of drug-resistant diseases.

Global child health organizations like UNICEF have made pneumonia a key area of focus in their effort to reduce child mortality in underdeveloped countries throughout the world. UNICEF’s Supply Chain division’s product innovation project called ARIDA, launched a call for technology to industry in 2011, with the aim to achieve innovation in this space, followed by the publication of a Target Product Profile (TPP) for automated respiration monitoring in November of 2014.

Each year, pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, and remains the leading infectious cause of death among children under-five, killing nearly 2,500 children a day, with most victims under two years of age. Every 35 seconds a child dies of pneumonia, with 99 percent of deaths occurring in low-resource settings in developing countries, which are typically rural with poor healthcare facilities, and where treatment is not available for many children.

The development of the Philips Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor has been a result of collaboration between the Philips Africa Innovation Hub located in Nairobi, Kenya, the Philips Research team in Eindhoven, The Netherlands and the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore, India. Field testing on the Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor was conducted in East Africa and India and improvements in design and technology incorporated on the basis of feedback from local community health workers and clinical officers in these low-resource settings. The Philips Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor is pending CE-marking and is expected to become commercially available from the second quarter of 2016.