Thursday, July 08, 2010

Medical Innovations

The cost of bringing medical equipment to impoverished countries is a vast sum for clinics operating on small budgets. In fact, one newborn incubator can cost up to twenty thousand dollars. Medical groups and doctors have trouble funding the equipment that they need to improve the life expectancy in poor countries. Luckily, the people that dream for more cost effective medical options have put their minds together. Social entrepreneurs working from their basements, garages and universities have come up with innovative designs for important medical equipment.

Whether they are using salad spinners to diagnose blood or making cell phones into microscopes, these scientific entrepreneurs create their designs for the same social purpose- cost efficiency. As a correspondent for the Take Part Website explains, “Centrifuges spin dense red blood cells from lighter plasma, separating blood for transfusions, tests, and super-concentrated vampire juice. But standard centrifuges require electricity and cash, both of which are hard to come by in many parts of the world.” At Rice University, students saw the need for a more cost effective option. By taking an ordinary salad spinner (and a few accessories), the students were able to create their own centrifuge. Their salad spinner can spin up to 950 rpm. Even though the “Sally Spinner” performs a bit slower than the leading centrifuge sold today, its pace is not a setback when one considers the benefits of not needing electricity and the salad spinner’s ability to be easily carried around. Not to mention, who can beat the cost (an estimated 30 dollars) to buy the all the parts.

Indeed, it appears that innovative creations, like the ones Rice University students came up with, could reduce the cost of medical supplies. Once medical supplies are manufactured at a greater pace, then medical equipment will be more widely available to poor countries.

-Rachel Ulrich

SOURCE: Take Part