Lifebox features on the BBC

'One Crucial Piece of Equipment': The Smile Train-Lifebox Capnograph

Lifebox’s work to address a major gap in anesthesia safety features on the BBC!

“One of the crucial factors in patient safety is real time, reliable monitoring of patients under anesthetic,” reports Grainne Harrington for BBC World Service Health Check. The leading radio program for health stories worldwide just featured the work of Lifebox and Smile Train in Uganda “to make surgery safer by improving patient monitoring” through capnography access.

The BBC Health Check episode tells the story of our work in Uganda with Smile Train to improve anesthesia monitoring.

Reporting from the children’s surgery ward in Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Grainne says, “This is the National Referral Hospital, the safest place to be for surgery here. But for those who can’t come here, outcomes can vary, especially in rural settings where gaps in trained staff and equipment can make the difference between life and death.”

The program details the work of  Lifebox and Smile Train to make tens of thousands of operations safer “by providing low-cost, easy-to-use capnography”.

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Journalist Grainne Harrington interviewing anesthesiologist Dr. Mary Nabukenya at Mulago National Referral Hospital, Uganda.

“Capnographs are widely used in many wealthier countries and mandatory in some – including the US and the UK. But affordability, training, and accessibility of parts mean they are in much shorter supply in less wealthy countries – most doctors in Uganda work without them. So to address this, Lifebox and Smile Train are donating 54 easy-to-use capnographs to Uganda and training staff how to use them.” 

Dr. Cephas Mijumbi, tells the story of losing a patient because of a lack of anesthesia monitoring. “We had in the past a very sick child who was not breathing well and that child was intubated. Unfortunately, we were depending on the chest movement. Now because that child was so sick and very thin, the chest movements were not obvious and unfortunately the tube had been put in the wrong place and not in the airway. And we realized too late, the heart had stopped. If we had had a capnograph at that time, we would have detected earlier that the airway was not open and the appropriate interventions would have been started earlier enough to save the child’s life.”

Smile Train-Lifebox Capnograph monitoring a patient under anesthesia at CoRSU Hospital, Uganda. ©Lifebox/Muhwezi Davis 2024

This is just the beginning of our work to improve global access to capnography, with Smile Train and Lifebox committing to equip 650 operating rooms with Smile Train-Lifebox Capnographs.

Smile Train and Lifebox are urging health care systems and equipment standard guidelines, including those set by the World Health Organization (WHO) globally, to include a capnograph as an essential anesthesia monitoring equipment for safer surgery. Find out more.

Health Check is the BBC World Service program, hosted by Claudia Hammond, covering health stories from across the globe. Listen to the full episode ‘Puerto Rico declares dengue fever emergency’ or as a podcast here. Tune in to our feature at 16:36 – 23.51. 


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