Healthcare on the cheap – innovations from Appropriate Healthcare Technologies event

Friday, November 8, 2013

It takes years for a manufacturer to demonstrate that a new medical device is effective and safe. But, if a less-than-perfect, cheaper innovation can save lives in the developing world, it should be made available, said speakers at the Appropriate Healthcare Technologies event in London, UK. Ledetta Asfa-Wossen reviews four design innovations.


In rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, a ruptured ecoptic pregnancy is treated surgically and an auto-transfusion procedure is performed in which clinicians remove blood from the abdomen during open surgery by scooping it out with a ladle or cup. The blood is then poured through a nurse’s hand to remove the largest clots, then through layers of gauze. The blood is then mixed with anticoagulant from a citrate bag, and the mixture is poured into the citrate bag and transfused. The process is unhygienic and takes 30 minutes.

HemafuseIn answer to this, product engineer and co-founder of technology producer DIIME, Gilian Henker, has created a quick and portable device called Hemafuse to prevent maternal deaths caused by auto-transfusions. The main body of the mechanical device is made of a clear plastic that is reusable and can withstand sterilisation in autoclaves. In anticipation of misuse or overuse, the device contains disposable micro-mesh to remove clots and impurities larger than 170μ from blood collected during surgery. Only one clinician is required to operate the device instead of three to four with the current method, and whole blood products can be transfused without handling or the use of a vacuum aspirator. It can function without a power source and has reusable parts that allow it to be cleaned.

Source: Materials World (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
healthcare technology