DhakaTribune
Saturday December 16, 2017 02:00 AM

Bangladeshi doctor’s innovative use of shampoo bottle saves babies from pneumonia

Bangladeshi doctor’s innovative use of shampoo bottle saves babies from pneumonia
A photo of Dr Mohammod Jobayer Chisti ResearchGate

So far, around 600 children have benefited from Dr Chisti's low-cost device

Dr Mohammod Jobayer Chisti has come up with a “low-cost device” to save lives of babies’ suffering from pneumonia – after two decades of research.

In developed countries like Bangladesh, hospitals rely on ventilators to help children suffering from pneumonia to breathe.

However, it is too expensive for hospitals to have such machines – each costing up to $15,000 – and get trained staff to operate them.

This is where Dr Chisti‘s innovation proves remarkable – taking inspiration from a machine he saw during his work in Australia, he came up with a cheaper version of the device.

The machine Chisti saw in Australia, “uses continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to prevent the lungs from collapsing, helping the body to absorb enough oxygen,” writes the BBC.

When Chisti returned, he started work on “a simpler, cheaper bubble CPAP device” at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B),

According to the BBC, Chisti and his colleagues took a plastic shampoo bottle from the intensive care unit (ICU), filled it with water and inserted one end of some plastic supply tubing.

The children then inhaled oxygen from a tank and exhaled through a tube which was inserted into a bottle of water producing bubbles in the water, explained Dr Chisti.

The small air sacs of the lungs were kept open from the pressure made from the bubbles.

When Chisti was working in the paediatric department of the Sylhet Medical College Hospital in 1996, he made “a promise that he would do something to stop children dying from pneumonia.”

It seems he is keeping his promise.

So far, around 600 children have benefited from his low-cost device.

Chisti told the BBC: “We tested it on four or five patients at random. We saw a significant improvement within a few hours.”

The BBC also talked to Kohinoor Begum whose daughter Runa was treated by the device.

She said: “Doctors worked so hard; oxygen, a pipe for food, and then a white round bottle was connected with water bubbling away.

“After the treatment, when my child recovered, I felt so happy.”

Dr Chisti published his findings in The Lancet magazine, after a two-year study.

According to the study, children treated with the bubble CPAP device had “much lower death rates compared with those treated with low-flow oxygen.”

The device, which costs only $1.25, seems to have reduced mortality rate by 75%.

It also makes much more “efficient use” of oxygen – cutting down the hospital’s annual oxygen bill “from $30,000 to just $6,000.”

Professor of paediatrics at Ad-din Women’s Medical College, Dr ARM Luthful Kabir, told the BBC that a nationwide study is still needed but “the results are encouraging.”

He added: “I think this innovation has great potential to reduce the mortality rate drastically because any hospital can afford this.”

Dr Chisti now heads the clinical research at his hospital.

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