Document Type

Review Article


Paediatrics and Child Health


Background: With the high frequency of acute respiratory infections in children worldwide, particularly so in low-resource countries, the development of effective diagnostic support is crucial. While pulse oximetry has been found to be an acceptable method of hypoxemia detection, improving clinical decision making and efficient referral, many healthcare set ups in low- and middle-income countries have not been able to implement pulse oximetry into their practice.
Main body: A review of past pulse oximetry implementation attempts in low- and middle-income countries proposes the barriers and potential solutions for complete integration in the healthcare systems. The addition of pulse oximetry into WHO health guidelines would prove to improve detection of respiratory distress and ensuing therapeutic measures. Incorporation is limited by the cost and unavailability of pulse oximeters, and subsequent oxygen accessibility. This restriction is compounded by the lack of trained personnel, and healthcare provider misconceptions. These hurdles can be combated by focus on low-cost devices, and cooperation at national levels for development in healthcare infrastructure, resource transport, and oxygen delivery systems.
Conclusion: The implementation of pulse oximetry shows promise to improve child morbidity and mortality from pneumonia in low- and middle-income countries. Steady measures taken to improve access to pulse oximeters and oxygen supplies, along with enhanced medical provider training are encouraging steps to thorough pulse oximetry integration.


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