A full-on Monet

In which Scangroup, a leading marketing services group in Africa, funds Lifebox across Kenya.  

It’s easy to classify countries at distance.  Hot/cold.  High/low-income.  From far away, it’s OK, but up close – as the Clueless truism goes – it’s a big old mess.

Changing world map

(c) worldmapper.org

Particularly when it comes to income.  In the last twenty years, classified and classifications have drifted apart.  Today, more than 70 percent of the world’s poor don’t live in officially ‘poor’ countries.  They live in middle-income countries, where the top line metrics speak to increasing health and wealth but the reality is much more unevenly spread.

So when it comes to initiatives working to improve quality of life for populations worldwide, you can look to your global grants, your government aid – but much more exciting are those flourishing organisations and individuals around the world who know their country, care about their people and have the capacity to make an enormous difference.

Take Scangroup Limited, a multi-million dollar business providing advertising, marketing and communications services across Africa.   The company is based in Nairobi and led by Kenyan CEO Bharat Thakrar, who skipped university in favour of starting his own agency  in 1982 and never needed to look back.

Bharat was introduced to Lifebox last year, and we are enormously pleased to look back – and ahead! – at what we’ve achieved together so far, and what is still to come.

Scangroup is working with Lifebox to supply 300 oximeters and spare probes to hospitals across Kenya over the next three years, and to support the training and education that will ensure the equipment makes a long-term difference.

The first phase of the workshop took place last month, at the Kenyan Society of Anaesthesiologists (KSA) annual meeting in Nakuru, Rift Valley.  Anaesthesia providers from 80 district hospitals around the country were invited to attend a full day of Lifebox training.

Caesarean section at a district hospital

The faculty was led by Kenyan anesthesiologists, who introducing the oximeters and the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist to their anaesthesia colleagues.  And the impact on safe surgery in hospitals across the country – on the well-being and capacity of healthcare workers, on patients for whom a safe operation is their last chance at life and livelihood – is immense.

“It went very well indeed, if I may say so myself…” Dr David Misango, one of the faculty members told us.  (Patient safety isn’t something to be shy – or modest – about.)

“I think this has made the greatest impact of all the projects undertaken,” said Dr Idris Chepoke, an anaesthetist in Nakuru.  “It will make a very big impact on patients safety.  It has reached out to everybody’s heart.”

A reporter recently introduced Bharat Thakrur as a CEO who “always holds the lift for colleagues.”   We’ve never been in an elevator with him, but think that’s a lovely analogy to expand.

Safe surgery is all too often a closed door for those in desperate need of it.  Working with Lifebox and colleagues at the KSA, Scangroup has taken the opportunity to provide the training, the equipment, the support to let more people in.  We’re very thankful.

This project will save lives, and we’re so excited to be a part of it.

As Dr Wangui Thang’a, another member of the faculty, says, and says it best (with such a smile):


Eff. Dee. Ae.

Celebrities may not read their reviews, but at Lifebox, we do.   Avidly.

(Don’t you bet the celebrities do too?)

We want to know what delegates found most useful – or not – about our workshops.

Mozambique_questions from the audience

Lifebox training in Mozambique

We want to know how colleagues are doing this week with the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist at our pilot site in Rwanda.

Kibagabaga Checklists And we want to know, in the face of the devastating surgical safety crisis, that we have the right tools to support our colleagues on the frontline.

Ghana_provider with oximeter

So we read the studies.  We ask the questions.  And we respond.

That way we can say with confidence that we know the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist reduces complication and mortality in the operating room by more than 30%.

We know pulse oximeters keep patients safer during surgery.

And we know the model we distribute is the right one for long-term, optimized use in low-resource setting countries.

We have the study to prove it.

Accuracy of the Lifebox pulse oximeter during hypoxia in healthy volunteers,” published last month in the medical journal Anaesthesia, confirms that the Lifebox model meets USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for accuracy.

We’ve always said that low-resource doesn’t mean low quality.  Apart from being insulting, it’s also a particularly impractical M.O.   (So you’re the inventor of the papier-mâché umbrella for monsoon season.  What a bargain.  You must be very proud.)

Our equipment is used to save lives; it was always going to be high-quality. And it wasn’t picked off the shelf – it was specially designed for use in a low-resource setting, after consultation with those who know that reality best.

Nicaragua_patient monitoring post-surgery

But now you don’t need to take our word (or their words) for it – Dubowitz et al declare it so!

Researchers at University of California San Francisco (USCF) and Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) compared the Lifebox oximeter against arterial haemoglobin oxygen saturation more than 1400 times, on 57 healthy adults.  In laboratory setting they found that it compared as well as higher cost commercial units currently available in the US, and recommended it as an inexpensive solution for patient monitoring without compromising standards.

Oximeter distribution

Now, some big news – which we’ll announce in grand fashion shortly, but it’s too exciting not to share with our best readers – is that Lifebox has just passed the 6000 mark for pulse oximeters and training distributed.

Of course there’s still a long way to go.

But with a review like this one in Anaesthesia?

We’re grateful to our colleagues who took the time to put such a robust study together, thankful for the 57 volunteers who made that study possible, honoured to work with our frontline colleagues and – without honking our own trumpet (too loudly) – thrilled to say we’re moving in the right direction!