Solar Powered Oxygen Could Fill Critical Gap in Underserved Areas Interview with:

Michael Hawkes MD PhD Adjunct Professor Assistant Professor  Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine School of Public Health University of Alberta

Dr. Hawkes

Michael Hawkes MD PhD
Adjunct Professor
Assistant Professor
Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine
School of Public Health
University of Alberta What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

  • Pneumonia is the leading cause of mortality in children globally.
  • Oxygen is an essential therapy for children with hypoxemic pneumonia, but is not available in many resource-limited and rural areas.
  • Our innovation, solar powered oxygen delivery, harnesses freely available sun and air to delivery oxygen to patients independent of grid electricity.
  • We performed a randomized controlled trial of solar powered oxygen delivery, compared to standard oxygen delivery using compressed oxygen cylinders in children with hypoxemia hospitalized at two centres in Uganda.
  • Solar powered oxygen was non-inferior to cylinder oxygen with respect to clinical outcomes, and offers advantages in terms of reliability, simplicity, and cost. What should readers take away from your report?

  • Providing reliable oxygen therapy is challenging in low-income settings like Uganda.
  • Solar powered oxygen delivery is a solution that could fill a major gap in clinical care of children with hypoxemic pneumonia.
  • Solar powered oxygen delivery works just as well as cylinder oxygen for treating hypoxemic children.
  • Solar powered oxygen delivery is cost-effective.
  • Solar powered oxygen delivery is convenient, reliable, and simple to use in a busy clinical setting. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Future directions of this work include a planned country-wide scale-up of solar powered oxygen delivery across Uganda, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and global funding partners. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Grand Challenges Canada and the Women and Children’s Research Institute (University of Alberta) funded this study.


Hawkes MT, Conroy AL, Namasopo S, et al. Solar-Powered Oxygen Delivery in Low-Resource SettingsA Randomized Clinical Noninferiority TrialJAMA Pediatr. Published online May 14, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0228 

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Last Updated on May 15, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD