The Pratt Pouch can prevent the transmission of HIV
from mother to child, even when the child is born at
home, like this young boy from Tanzania.
“It has taken the efforts of many people over many years to reach this event” says Pratt Pouch founder Dr. Robert Malkin (Professor of the Practice, Biomedical Engineering, Duke University) upon hearing of the first human use of the Pratt Pouch. Developed by faculty and students participating in Dr. Malkin's Developing World Healthcare Technology Laboratory (DHT-Lab), the Pratt Pouch is a drug delivery system that can help prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. A foilized, polyethylene pouch (similar in look and design to a single-dose ketchup packet) the Pratt Pouch extends the life of antiretroviral medication (from two to twelve months), ensures accurate pediatric dosing, and allows for discrete administration of antiretreviral (ARV) drugs in any location.
The first dose was given under nurse supervision over the weekend of June 14-16, 2013 in Guayaquil, Ecuador to a newborn baby. Since then, the mother and baby have both been sent home, the mother with an additional sixty Pratt Pouches filled with ARV medication. She will use these pouches to protect her newborn over the coming weeks, by tearing the foil packet and squeezing a precise amount of medication into her infant’s mouth twice a day.
The vast majority (90% or roughly 400,000) of new HIV cases in children are a result of mother-to-child transmission.[i] This transmission can be reduced from upwards of 45% to less than 5%, if the newborn infant receives ARV therapy within 24 hours after birth and throughout the breastfeeding period (or a minimum of 4-6 weeks).[ii] Especially in areas with high home-births rates, the Pratt Pouch provides an innovative solution for delivery of accurately dosed medication.
The Pratt Pouch has received numerous recognitions and awards from international organizations such as USAID (Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge finalist) and the World Health Organization (Top Ten List of Most Innovative Health Technologies, 2012) as well as being featured on PBS (Five Maternal Health Innovations that Could Save Lives). Currently, the Pratt Pouch is in use or consideration for use in Tanzania, Ecuador and Zambia, with plans for further expansion in the coming years.
“This is an exciting example of how Duke is drawing upon its outstanding human and intellectual resources to create entrepreneurial solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems,” commented Matt Nash, center director of the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), a “development lab” for scaling innovations in global health launched with a recent grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development Higher Education Solutions Network. “The SEAD team congratulates the DHT-Lab on this important milestone, and we look forward to working with them as they develop and deploy the business model that will enable the scaling of this life-saving innovation to save thousands of lives.”
[i] UN. UNAIDS Data Tables, USA: United Nations 2010.
[ii] WHO. PMTCT Strategic Vision 2010-2015. 2010. http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/mtct/strategic_vision.pdf