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NEC and partners report early success with neonatal biometric vaccine management system


A biometric vaccination management program for newborn children has been jointly developed by NEC, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Japan’s Nagasaki University, and the results of a trial are beginning to roll in.

The partners say that early results from a clinical trial started last September at Kinango Sub-County Hospital in Kwale are highly encouraging. The trial runs until March, 2023.

A system provided by NEC combines fingerprint biometrics for children with voice recognition for caregivers to confirm their identities and manage vaccination histories and schedules. Infants’ fingerprints are enrolled when they receive their first vaccination, including immediately after delivery. A novel authentication method is used, based on matches of fingerprint data from multiple fingers. The newborn’s thumb and three other fingers are enrolled and compared with a special biometric scanner, according to the announcement.

Vaccination management system (fingerprint data registration page). Image supplied by NEC.

Vaccination management system (vaccination data registration page). Image supplied by NEC.

The trial consists of 1,000 caregivers and newborns, 300 of whom were registered by the end of November, 2022.

The vaccination management system will be used to track the administration of eight vaccines and one supplement up to 24 months after birth.

Voice and fingerprint data will be deleted at the conclusion of the trial, the partners say.

The partners plan to carry out tests of the biometric system with a network of multiple hospitals, and full-scale introduction across Kenya could be completed by the end of 2023.

“I expect that this vaccination management system, including newborn fingerprint biometric technology, will expand the coverage of vaccinations for children under 24 months old through accurate identification methods for mothers and children in Kenya. I also express great expectations for this research to act as a guideline for precise vaccination management featuring newborn and caregiver identification to become an important contributor to Universal Health Coverage,” says Professor Miriam Khamadi Were, laureate of the 1st Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

The project is intended to support UN SDG 16.9, to provide legal identity and birth registration for all, as well as SDG 3.2, to end preventable deaths among newborns and children under 5, and reduce neonatal mortality.

The partners have worked together on biometrics for neonatal health in Kenya since 2019.

NEC also recently engaged with Synolo as it works on commercializing infant biometrics in hospitals in the Americas, and the company has worked with Simprints and Gavi in sub-Saharan Africa.

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