Saving lives of children: medical device for safe administration of IV therapy
Timeperiod: February – June 2016
Partner: Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI)
Shock affects 10% of children admitted to Ugandan hospitals. Approximately 11-12% of them die, often within hours of admission. The majority of these children need immediate intravenous therapy, but often the needed equipment is not available.
In order to ensure safe administration of intravenous fluids and drugs to these children, electronic devices are necessary, but existing products are prohibitively expensive and not well suited for low resource settings.
Most of the existing infusion sets available in Uganda are imported from abroad and comes at a cost of 5000-10 000 USD, which means it is not available to all hospitals and clinics. Often it is donated and is generally not well suited for the context and situation at the hospitals. The equipment depend on steady electrical supply, whereas Ugandan hospitals experience frequent and regular power-cuts. Maintenance is also a challenge as spare parts are not easily available locally and skilled hospital technicians, to effectively maintain the equipment, are not always available.
Engineers and technicians at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) have worked on a solution following a needs assessment visit to Mulago National Referral Hospital’s Children’s Acute Care ward in 2013. They have developed an electronically controlled gravity feed (ECGF) device that can ensure the safe administration of intravenous fluids and drugs to children under the age of five. The device they have developed uses gravity flow as opposed to a pumping mechanism. This means that the device can be delivered a highly reduced price compared to the imported infusion sets. Furthermore, the gravity-feed infusion set is operated using batteries which makes it more reliable for situations where power-cuts are common.
In January 2016, UIRI engaged Design without Borders to help develop the casing for the device to prepare it for clinical testing.
The main focus of the design process was developing a product suitable for both usability and performance testing. The designers worked closely with the technical team, assisting with iterations and testing their solutions. 3D-printing, which is not very commonly used in Uganda, was a valuable technique in this process.
"Working with Design without Borders has been extremely beneficial. With their input we have finally conceptualized appropriate casings for the ECGF infusion set, that so far yield acceptable test results when interfaced with our hardware."
- Philippa Ngaju Makobore, Principal Investigator – UIRI
The prototype will be clinically piloted in Mulago hospital during 2016. Findings from the clinical testing will provide a baseline for a second design project, with the goal of developing the ECGF Infusion Set for production and implementation on the market. UIRI intends to engage the public and private sector to explore the option of launching a spin off company with venture capitalist funding.
Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) is a centre of excellence for the East African Community (EAC) in industrial research. The institution is the Ugandan Government’s lead agency for industrialization, it is the country’s primary institute for implementing strategies and measures aimed at transforming industry in Uganda. Core activities include value addition and capacity building to promote innovation, translation of applied research into practical applications; and technical skills training to deploy technology across Uganda.
Watch the film from the project here: