How to Make a Hardware Store Drill Into a Surgical Tool
Monday, July 25, 2016
When it comes to global public health, a lot of effort goes towards stamping out disease like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis—and rightly so. These are plagues in many parts of the world. But something we typically focus less energy on, is surgery.
“People call it the neglected stepchild of global health,” Florin Gheorghe, CEO and co-founder of Vancouver-based Arbutus Medical, told me. He’s visited hospitals in some African countries where people were laid low by terrible motorbike injuries, which can lead to all sorts of economic and social hardships down the road for their entire families when they aren’t treated properly, he said.
Hospitals in remote or rural areas don’t always have access to surgical drills, which can cost upwards of $30,000 each. Doctors might have nothing better than a “hand-crank” drill, an instrument that works by turning it by hand—or they might have to improvise with a non-sterile construction drill, according to Grand Challenges Canada, a government-funded agency that supports global health projects in the developing world.