Country of Operation
- Emergency care
- Maternal, newborn and child health
SummaryEchelon designs, develops, and manufactures medical devices in Ethiopia. It improves the health of Ethiopians by ensuring access to safe, reliable medical devices. Echelon manufactures devices, such as ambu-bags and masks, that are simple yet critical for sustaining and improving lives.
Currently focusing on asphyxia in neonates, Echelon aims to bring together the best in industry with local resources to manufacture medical devices in Ethiopia. Basic resuscitation performed by a health extension worker can prevent 20-30 percent of intrapartum neonatal deaths and can possibly save 5-10 percent of preterm babies. In Ethiopia, only 10 percent of births have a nurse or practitioner present, and the majority of women give birth at home with the support of a health extension worker. Equipped with a simple, bag valve mask device, extension workers and other health providers can prevent some of the neonatal deaths and disabilities from asphyxia.
Key program components
With support from Raechelon, a US-based company experienced in bringing medical devices to the market, Echelon will open a medical device manufacturing facility in Ethiopia. Echelon will specifically focus on devices and consumables necessary for improving maternal and child health, starting with a neonatal bag valve mask to treat asphyxia. The company will distribute this device through both public and private sector channels and will specifically focus on getting the devices into the hands of health extension workers. Their product will provide a low-cost substitute to the imported devices currently available in the Ethiopian market. Additionally, it will be reusable up to twenty times, rather than disposable after one use.
With support from the HANSHEP Health Enterprise Fund, Echelon will manufacture pilot devices, distribute and assess the use of these devices by providers in Ethiopia, train health extension workers in the use of the device and train Ethiopian employees on good manufacturing practices, equipment maintenance, and product quality testing.
The vast majority–85 percent—of Ethiopians live in rural areas, and of that population, nearly half fall within the two lowest wealth quartiles. Ethiopians in rural areas are at an additional disadvantage due to the lack of accessible hospital facilities that currently carry bag-valve masks. Increasing the availability of bag-valve masks at rural health facilities and among trained health extension workers operating in rural areas can have an impact on improving infant survival, which in turn will positively affect this rural population living at the base of the pyramid. In addition to increasing survival rates, preventing infant disability from asphyxia has a direct economic impact on families where adults must forego earnings to care for disabled children, and preventing disability makes it much more likely that those children will be able to pursue educational opportunities, participate in society, and earn an income.