Malawi Project

Balaka District, Malawi


With the financial support of Idea Foundry and the logistical support of H.E.L.P. Malawi, LeanMed was able to conduct its own data collection program in the Balaka District of Malawi to test the oxygen levels of patients in this African district.

The purpose of the Malawi pulse oximetry program was to validate the frequency of patients that require supplemental oxygen.

In order to achieve our objective, we used the blood-oxygen levels of incoming patients at various rural health centers over the course of 3 months.

We were fortunate to work with Dr. Eugene Katenga-Kaunda, Balaka’s District Health Officer.

” A mother recognizes that her young daughter is sick.. They make their way to the nearest health centre where severe pneumonia is diagnosed.

Supplemental oxygen is required.. a resource this rural clinic is not equipped to provide.

By the time of arrival at the hospital, the patient’s state may be too far progressed to rescue. “

Archetypal Case Description, Sever Pediatric Pneumonia


We supplied 7 health facilities in the Balaka District with a wireless pulse oximeter and a smartphone for communication and data collection.

We developed and provided additional equipment for securing and recharging the electronics at the facility.

After training the staff , we revisited various facilities, such as Kwitanda and Kalembo, to ensure that the training protocols and guides were successful.

We followed the health centers over the course of 3 months. Our communication served not only to collect data, but also to determine the reception and impact of the pulse oximeters.

These centers had never used pulse oximeters before, and were not aware of the World Health Organization’s (W.H.O.) recommendations for determining patients in need of oxygen.


In the end, our work served to help validate how dire the oxygen situation is in countries like Malawi.

Over the course of the 3 months, the centers tested 3,890 patients for their oxygen saturation levels.

37% of these patients were found to have levels below 90%, at which point the W.H.O. recommends they receive supplemental oxygen.

Even adjusting for potential false-positives with pulse oximeters, the data revealed that an average of 12 patients per week required supplemental oxygen at any given center. 

“The coming in of.. this

technology is another new landmark in the

history of health service delivery in Malawi,

Balaka in particular.”

Darlico Majawa, Kankao


We continue to use this data to guide our own development of the O2 Cube, while each of the centers have continued to make use of the pulse oximeters to this day.

meet the Balaka District facility members

FAST Track Program

With this knowledge, we’re taking the next step to save lives with our rapid response Fast Track Program