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South Africans have once again great reason to celebrate, as one of their very own scooped up another great international health award at the recent Pneumonia Innovations Summit, 

held on November 12th in New York City in the USA. 

Dr. Coen Louw, the medical director of Gateway Health Institute, was honored as one of five international winners of the prestigious “People’s Choice Award for Most Promising Childhood Pneumonia Innovation”, given to innovators across the world for the work they are doing in reducing childhood pneumonia.

The summit, which was held on World Pneumonia Day, brought together a growing community of innovators with new and improved technologies for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of childhood pneumonia in low resource settings.   As the recent “Pushing the Pace” report found, reducing the 900,000+ child pneumonia deaths to the levels required by the new Sustainable Development Goals, will depend on accelerated uptake of the innovations with the greatest lifesaving potential.

Louw entered his “Oil-Based Amoxicillin Suspension”, a suspension of amoxicillin in non-volatile oils eliminating the use of water for reconstitution during treatment of childhood pneumonia. This new delivery method prevents degradation of the reconstituted antibiotic which usually happens within 2 weeks after adding water and eliminates the need for refrigeration. It will have a shelf life of up to two years and will remain stable at very high temperatures.

“This award just confirms that we are on the absolute right path towards preventing an illness that affects thousands of children worldwide. I am honored and humbled to have been one of five global winners to receive this award,” Louw said.

The Pneumonia Innovations Team, a global network of more than 200 organizations and individuals committed to accelerating the development and adoption of new technologies with the greatest potential to reduce child deaths from pneumonia, sponsored this event in support of the UN Secretary-General’s “Every Woman, Every Child” movement.

Other winners include:

1. Mohammod Jobayer Chisti – Bubble-Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (BCPAP): A robust, easy to use device that delivers oxygen to sick children at a fraction of the cost of mechanical ventilators through an oxygen cannula, intravenous tubing and a shampoo bottle – with gas flow provided by oxygen concentrators. A recent randomized trial in Bangladesh found that the BCPAP improved outcomes in children with very severe pneumonia and hypoxemia compared with standard low-flow oxygen therapy.

2. Pavan Dadlani – Children’s Automated Respiration Monitor (ChARM): An easy-to-use, automated breathing rate monitor to support the diagnosis of childhood pneumonia by community health workers in low-resource countries. ChARM is placed around the child’s belly and automatically measures the respiratory rate and classifies fast breathing according to the WHO guidelines. The device will also be able to measure temperature and oxygen levels.

3. Jim Black – Low Pressure Oxygen Storage (LPOS): LPOS (the Low Pressure Oxygen Storage system) makes oxygen therapy feasible in the smallest health facilities. Built around a standard oxygen concentrator, it stores oxygen locally at low pressure, and automatically turns to this store during electricity blackouts. No more pneumonia patients lost to the vagaries of the power grid.

 4. Udantha Abeyratne – PneumoFone: An app that converts a smart phone to an instrument for pneumonia diagnosis without extra sensors or an external communication network, based on the analysis of cough sounds. A diagnostic decision of greater than 90% accuracy can be displayed in-situ on the phone within a few minutes of measurement of cough. The PneumoFone can also accommodate other observations such as the breathing rate and the existence of fever.


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