The advisory board of the Nigeria Prize for Science on Thursday announced the work on ‘Respiratory Technologies for Keeping Nigerian New-Born babies Alive’ by Prof. Hippolite Amadi the winning project of the 2023 edition.
The panel of judges said Amadi’s work had won the Nigeria LNG Ltd. (NLNG) 100,000 dollars prize.
The Chairperson of the Advisory Board for the Prize, Prof. Barth Nnaji, announced the judges’ verdict based on the 2023 theme “Innovation for Enhancement of Healthcare Therapy” at a press conference organised by NLNG in Lagos.
Nnaji said Amadi’s work had not only significantly advanced neonatal care in Nigeria, but further improved access and lowered the cost of neonatal care, by causing reduction in the market prices of the competing and existing devices.
“The entry showcased three 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 for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) ventilation of very low-birth-weight neonates.
“This is a feasible alternative to the readily available improvised bubble CPAP (IBCPAP) in cost-constrained settings,” he said.
Nnaji said the second innovations was the Oxygen Delivery Blender System, which allowed safe delivery of oxygen without the danger of toxicity.
The professor said the third one was the Oxygen Splitter System, which allowed the use of a shared source of oxygen to many neonates at a time, in situations where piped oxygen was not available.
He added that the devices were powered by solar energy.
Nnaji explained that the devices had been tried by practitioners at various hospitals across Nigeria, adding that there were reports from those hospitals that the innovation, PoliteCPAP, was an improvement on the existing device.
He said the practitioners said it provided access to ventilators and oxygen delivery simultaneously to neonates at a reduced cost of N750,000 as against N6.5 million for the existing device with comparable and better efficiency.
Nnaji said Amadi was a visiting professor of Medical Engineering and Technology at Imperial College London with a special interest in the development of affordable medical systems.
He said prior to his work at Imperial College, Amadi was a professor of Medical Technology at Imo State University.
Nnaji added that his career spanned three decades, cutting across engineering in healthcare, orthopaedics and neonatology research.
In his speech, Mr Andy Odeh, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, said the decision of the judges was a testament to the power of collaboration between the private sector, academia and the broader scientific community.
He noted that the outcome emphasised the need for collective responsibility to nurture and support innovative solutions capable of transforming the country.
Odeh added that it aligned with NLNG’s vision of “helping to build a better Nigeria” where ground-breaking ideas flourished, and every life was valued and protected.
“We are honoured and deeply moved by the judges’ decision to recognise the ground-breaking innovation in respiratory technology that has been awarded the Nigeria Prize for Science in 2023.
“This invention not only represents a remarkable leap forward in medical science but also serves as a beacon of hope for the most vulnerable among us, our neonates.
“It reminds us that true progress is measured not only in scientific achievement but in the lives it touches and saves,” Odeh said.
He said today they celebrate the impact that innovation could have in enhancing healthcare therapy and safeguarding the futures of countless new-borns.
Odeh said one of NLNG ‘s mission was to be part of a legacy that put saving lives at the forefront of scientific pursuit.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the decision on the winning entry was reached by a panel of judges, led by Joseph Ahaneku, a Professor of Chemical Pathology at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State.
Other panel members include: Olaitan Alice Soyannwo, a professor of Anaesthesia at the University of Ibadan and Abdullahi Abba, a Professor of Medicine and Pulmonology at Ahmadu Bello University.
On the prize’s Advisory Board, in addition to Nnaji, are Chief Dr Nike Akande, a two-time minister and former President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Yusuf Abubakar, a professor of Animal Breeding and Quantitative Genetics.( NAN)