Can ‘Supergeeks’ Save Kenya’s Babies?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Broken machines litter the labour ward at Kenyatta hospital in Nairobi.

Nurses struggle to open oxygen valves with their fingernails because the buttons and valves are all broken on the baby incubator.

The hospital’s last functioning examination light is slumped nearby.

This lack of basic equipment could explain why Kenya is struggling to reduce maternal mortality rates.

The UN estimates 7,000 Kenyan women die each year when giving birth, many due to bleeding.

Yet many of these deaths could be avoided by a simple measure – shining a bright light so the doctor can look for tiny tears in the uterus or cervix.

But in the country’s hospitals many imported lamps are gathering dust because they are just too expensive to repair or replace.

Medical staff are forced to improvise by using their mobile phones as guiding lights.

Likewise, newborns perish because there are not enough incubators or other life-saving equipment.


The struggle for life in the equipment-graveyard has inspired a lab of “super-geeks” to team up with the University of Nairobi healthcare workers to find innovative, high-quality and low-cost solutions.

Globally, a network of innovators are making low-cost designs in simple fabrication labs which have become known as FabLabs.

Source: BBC (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
healthcare technology