IT IS not always fun and games on a smartphone – they can also be used to save lives.

That is exactly what Professor Mike English and Doctor Chris Paton are hoping to achieve with their game, Life-Saving Instruction for Emergencies (LIFE).

With almost half a million babies dying in Africa on the day they are born, a team of Oxford and Kenyan scientists hope the game will help African healthcare workers learn which procedures can help save a newborn's life.

Professor English, who works in Nairobi, said: "In Africa, the day a baby is born is also the day it faces the greatest risk of death.

"Over a million babies die in the first 28 days of life.

"The World Health Organisation estimates that more than two thirds of new-born deaths in Africa could be avoided by delivering essential interventions including emergency care effectively.

"With face-to-face training we have reached only a tiny proportion of the 2.5 million African healthcare workers.

"We need a system that enables everyone to access and learn the essential steps to save babies in an emergency.

"This is what we’re aiming to do with our LIFE platform: we will make it available so healthcare workers with a basic smartphone can download the game and learn or revise essential knowledge regularly."

The scenario-based mobile gaming platform will teach healthcare workers to identify and manage medical emergencies, using game-like training techniques to reinforce the key steps needed in order for a healthcare worker to save the life of a newborn baby in distress.

On March 12 the team launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £100,000 to develop the game for use in the field.

Doctor Paton, clinical researcher, said they had found in their research that nearly 80 per cent of healthcare workers in Kenya had a smartphone.

He said: "We wanted to reach out to the platform which was widely accessible.

"Transport links aren't great so holding a training day or something would not necessarily reach out to that many people.

"We're hoping that if this game is successful, we will then be able to link it with a 3D stimulation in the hospitals."

By using the LIFE game, Prof English and Dr Paton hope African healthcare workers in even the remotest settings will be trained so that their first instinct is to act correctly.

The game will teach them the latest guidelines, and can also be linked to professional accreditation, with built-in reminders to stay up-to-date and refresh what has been learned.

Oxford’s Green Templeton College is offering the opportunity to join Professor English for dinner in the Radcliffe Observatory to anyone who donates £1,000 or more to LIFE.

For more information visit: