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Hippolite Amadi, Nigerian Scientist Wins $100,000 Prize for Work in Keeping Newborns Alive.

The winning innovations comprise a non-invasive Neonatal Ventilator, an Oxygen Delivery Blender System, and an Oxygen Splitter System, all powered by solar energy.

Hippolite Amadi, a Nigerian and Professor of Medical Engineering and Technology, has won a $100,000 prize for emerging as the winner of the Nigerian Prize for Science 2023.

Mr Amadi, a visiting professor at the Imperial College London, emerged this year’s winner of the annual award with his work on respiratory technologies for keeping Nigerian newborns alive.

Winning entry

Announcing the winner of the Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG)-sponsored annual award, the Prize’s Advisory Board, led by Barth Nnaji, a professor, said the winning work was based on the theme: “Innovation for Enhancement of Healthcare Therapy”.

The winning innovations comprise a Non-invasive Neonatal Ventilator (NIV), an Oxygen Delivery Blender System, and an Oxygen Splitter System, all powered by solar energy.

The NIV is considered the gold standard in the care of preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS).

Mr Nnaji said Mr Amadi’s work has not only significantly advanced neonatal care in Nigeria and similar countries, but it has also further improved access and lowered the cost of neonatal care by causing an observed reduction in the market prices of the competing and existing devices.

“The entry showcased three (3) technological innovations aimed at saving the lives of neonates by making the delivery of oxygen cheap and easy. The first innovation is the non-invasive Neonatal Ventilator, a key invention (The bubble Polite CPAP) for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation of very-low-birth-weight neonates, a feasible alternative to the readily available improvised bubble CPAP (IBCPAP) in cost-constrained settings.

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“The second and third innovations are the Oxygen Delivery Blender System, which allows for the safe delivery of oxygen without the danger of toxicity, and the Oxygen Splitter System, which allows for the use of a shared source of oxygen to many neonates at a time, in situations where piped oxygen is not available. These devices are all solar powered,” he stated.

He stated further that the devices have been tried by practitioners at various hospitals across Nigeria, adding that there are reports from those hospitals that the innovation, PoliteCPAP, is an improvement on the existing device as it provides access to ventilators and oxygen delivery simultaneously to neonates at an extremely reduced cost of N750,000 as against N6.5 million for the existing device with comparable and better efficiency.

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Presidency commends innovation

President Bola Tinubu has also congratulated the winner and commended innovations that have reduced neonatal care costs significantly and saved lives in hospitals that have adopted the use of the solar-powered neonatal ventilator.

The president commended Mr Amadi for leveraging his extensive background in medical engineering and technology, with a special focus on affordable medical systems, for the betterment, progress, and benefit of Nigerians and humanity in general.

“This significant work by this great Nigerian scientist will contribute to keeping more Nigerian children alive after birth and preparing them for a better future as positive change makers and influencers both at home and abroad,” reads a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale.

About winner

Mr Amadi obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Engineering Technology and Management from the Enugu State University of Technology in 1988 and 1991 respectively.

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He also obtained a Master of Engineering in Medicine at the Imperial College, London in 2002 and a Doctorate in Orthopaedic Biomechanics at the same institution in 2006.

Professor Amadi is currently a visiting professor of Medical Engineering and Technology at the Imperial College London. Before his work at Imperial College, he was a professor of Medical Technology at Imo State University.

His career spans over three decades, cutting across engineering in healthcare, orthopaedics, and neonatology research. He is also the author of the book “Born to Live, Not to Die.”

His present role at Imperial College London focuses on Frugal Medical Technology for low- and middle-income countries. This runs alongside his position as the Principal Consultant at Neonatal Concerns for Africa charity organisation.

Qosim Suleiman is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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