Ghanaian scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, have designed beads to help mothers monitor children’s respiratory rates to detect early stages of pneumonia, SciDev.Net has said.
According to Unicef, pneumonia accounts for approximately 2 400 deaths per day in children younger than five years old. Countries within sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are more prone to the risk of pneumonia.
"Sometimes parents and caregivers ignore the symptoms of pneumonia until children are nearly unconscious and the disease has become severe before coming to us," Professor Daniel Ansong, lead researcher at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology said.
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Pneumonia symptoms, varying according to age, include fever, fast breathing, coughing and breathing difficulties.
According to SciDev.Net, the team tested their concept with 100 postpartum mothers at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, with about 85% of mothers able to accurately count their children's respiratory rates.
The beads are designed in the colours of the Ghanaian national flag, which also guides mothers on how to monitor the respiratory rate of children. A one-minute sand timer is also provided with the beads for mothers who have difficulties counting time on a clock.
The three zones are interpreted after counting the beads in the allowed one-minute. The green zone represents a good respiratory rate, the yellow zone communicates caution must be taken with a potential of dangerous respiratory rates requiring more monitoring, and lastly the red danger zone indicates a mother should seek medical help immediately.