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help women in poverty Across the globe, poverty comes in different forms. Over the years, individuals and companies have developed products to help those in poverty. Since poverty disproportionately impacts women, several companies are inventing products that address the specific tribulations of women. Flo, Hemafuse, Embrace and fashionable iodine dots are inventions that aim to help impoverished women across the globe.

4 Empowering Inventions to Help Impoverished Women

  1. Flo: The Reusable Menstrual Kit. Flo is an inexpensive, reusable menstrual kit designed by Mariko Higaki Iwai. The discreet kit allows girls to “wash, dry and carry reusable sanitary pads.” In developing nations such as Kenya, female students miss about five days of education a month due to a lack of access to menstrual products to properly manage their periods. The Flo kit aims to reduce the risk of infections due to inadequate menstrual hygiene and address period poverty to keep girls in school. With girls able to consistently attend school, they are able to acquire the tools and knowledge to rise out of poverty.
  2. Hemafuse: The Blood Recycler. Hemafuse is an affordable syringe-like device that collects and filters blood that can then be used in a blood transfusion. Since developing nations lack a “reliable blood supply” for emergency blood transfusions, Hemafuse serves to reduce preventable deaths due to blood loss. Hemafuse is particularly valuable in “ruptured ectopic pregnancies,” a common occurrence in the developing world. During ectopic pregnancies, a woman “can lose half of her blood volume,” necessitating an emergency blood transfusion that Hemafuse can help facilitate in countries with limited resources. In this way, Hemafuse can save the lives of millions of impoverished women in lower-income countries.
  3. Embrace: The Portable Incubator. One of the leading causes of newborn death is unregulated body temperature, which can lead to a newborn death every 10 seconds. Incubators are designed to address this issue, however, high costs make incubators inaccessible to hospitals that cannot afford the technology. Embrace is an affordable, portable incubator that serves as an alternative to this necessity. The inexpensive incubator is reusable and “does not require stable electricity,” making it ideal for impoverished and remote hospitals with limited resources. The design also “allows for close mother-child interaction” as a mother can hold the newborn instead of placing the baby in a conventional incubator. Embrace has saved the lives of more than 350,000 babies and aims to continue this trend with the goal of saving “one million babies by 2026.” Overall, Embrace reduces mortality rates among children of impoverished women.
  4. Life-Saving Dots: Fashionable Iodine. In India, many women face iodine deficiencies due to a lack of trust in foreign medicine. As a result, “pregnancy complications and fibrocystic breast disease” are not uncommon. The life-saving dot functions not only as a source of iodine for women but also as a bindi. Without having to take medication, women can wear these iodine dots on their foreheads to supplement the nutrients they need to maintain good health.

Overall, these four innovations provide significant support for women in poverty. Through creative and innovative solutions, the world can see more progress in reducing global poverty.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

Boosting Health in the Developing WorldThe health of those living in developing countries links to impacts caused by lack of access to food, clean drinking water, shelter and healthcare. Recent inventions have come about with the aim of boosting health in the developing world.

Flo Menstrual Kit

More often than not, girls in developing countries either cannot afford or do not have access to menstrual products. This makes it extremely difficult for them to go about their day, particularly if they are in school. Flo is a menstrual product that allows the user to wash, dry and carry a reusable menstrual pad with dignity. The concept was developed by Mariko Higaki Iwai. The Flo menstrual kit was designed with the following issues in mind:

  • School: Due to social stigma, girls worry that people will find out that they are menstruating at school. This fear is compounded by a lack of private restrooms in most schools in developing countries. This can cause girls to miss school or drop out entirely.
  • Hygiene: Reusable pads that go unwashed can cause reproductive infections and illnesses.
  • Privacy: It is difficult to find a private place to wash a reusable pad in rural areas and in schools.
  • Stigma: Menstruation is highly stigmatized and it can create a lack of confidence in girls who do not receive enough support surrounding the subject.

Flo addresses these issues, allowing girls to have productive days and stay in school while normalizing menstruation.

Hemafuse Autotransfusion

Hemafuse is a handheld device used for the autotransfusion of blood during an operation. This mechanical device was created by Sisu Global Health, a woman-led small business originating in Baltimore, Maryland. After members of Sisu Global Health witnessed the “soup ladle” method of blood transfusion in a Ghanian hospital, they wanted to create a safe alternative accessible to all. The device was originally invented to treat ruptured ectopic pregnancies, however, the device can also be used to replace or augment donor blood in an emergency situation. This device is imperative for developing countries as standard autotransfusion technology is very costly and these countries often do not have a ready supply of blood.

Kite Patch for Malaria

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, approximately 405,000 people died from malaria. The majority of these deaths were young children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is just one of several deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes. Others include the Zika virus, West Nile virus and dengue. The purpose of the Kite Patch is to eradicate malaria and reduce the amount of mosquito-borne diseases across the globe.

The Kite Patch is unique in that it does not use toxic DEET, poisons, pesticides, insecticides or any other harsh chemicals. The Kite Patch is long-lasting and it can be applied to clothing as opposed to the skin. It works by manipulating and interrupting the smell-neurons and sensor arrays insects use to find humans. The company has started the Kite Malaria-Free-World Campaign to help rid the world of malaria forever.

Child Vision Self-Adjustable Glasses

According to the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW), in developing countries, over 100 million youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in are nearsighted. The CVDW estimates that 60 million of these youth do not have access to vision correction options. The CVDW attributes five reasons for this lack: awareness, access, affordability, attractiveness and accuracy. First, people may not know that they have poor vision or that it can be corrected. Second, rural areas tend not to have shops where glasses can be purchased. Third, glasses are expensive and in order to be fit for them, one must attend multiple appointments. For many, this means missing work which is often a luxury that they cannot afford. Fourth, adolescents are often concerned about their appearance and risk being mocked for wearing glasses since they are not the norm. Finally, many people with glasses in developing countries are ill-fit for them due to poor testing or untrained opticians, which can harm their already poor vision.

The Child Vision initiative aims to address these five reasons with self-adjustable glasses that can be used by youth aged 12 to 18. The initiative will utilize school-based distribution programs to provide children in the developing world with glasses.

Pocketpure Portable Water Purifier

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), inadequate access to safe drinking water affects one in three people globally. Pocketpure is the invention that just might change that. In response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, George Page founded the Portapure company with the intent to provide access to clean drinking water for all. Portapure’s first invention was Pocketpure, a reusable, on-the-go device that can filter dirty water and make it clean enough to drink. It is essentially a collapsible collection cup with a water treatment apparatus and filtration unit that removes viruses, bacteria and other unsafe particles. With proper distribution, this device has the potential to provide clean and safe drinking water to millions of people around the world. Pocketpure is one of the inventions boosting health in the developing world.

While providing accessible healthcare for all is no easy task, these inventions show that there is work being done to combat the global health crisis. One invention at a time, innovators, creators and free-thinkers are boosting health in the developing world.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

health technologies for developing countriesIn recent years, there have been numerous innovations in medicine and new health technologies for developing countries. These technologies target a large variety of issues including medical testing, identifying safe drinking water, filtering dirty water and decreasing infant and maternal mortality rates. Some innovations that have had a significant impact on global health and show potential for future interventions include Hemafuse, Embrace Warmers, 3D printing in medicine and SMS services to identify counterfeit medicine in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Hemafuse

The Hemafuse is a recent example of new health technologies for developing countries. Autotransfusion is a medical procedure that recycles a patient’s blood back into their system. This practice can be extremely useful when there is no donor or matching blood type in injuries with large volumes of blood loss or internal bleedings. Blood transfusions are necessary for many medical situations. A significant number of maternal deaths in developing countries result from blood loss. Medics in Sub-Saharan Africa often use an extremely unsanitary technique of blood transfusion that involves a kitchen soup ladle because of the lack of alternatives. Before being reinfused into the patient’s system, the blood is filtered using gauze.

Sisu Global Health developed the Hemafuse for women with ruptured ectopic pregnancies to prevent life-threatening internal bleeding. The handheld device recovers blood from internal bleeds, filters out clots and impurities and reinfuses it the patient. Sisu Global Health is hoping to expand its design and impact 14 million lives. The device is easy to use and has the potential to decrease maternal mortality rates in developing countries. This is because it is sterile and does not require donor blood.

Embrace Warmers

The Embrace warmer is one of the health technologies for developing countries created to help newborns. The warmers were designed as portable incubators and warmers for newborns who are born premature or are lacking body fat. Lack of electricity and heating in hospitals can lead to complications such as neonatal hypothermia for newborns in developing countries. Jane Chen designed Embrace warmers at Stanford University and the device costs less than 1% of what regular incubators cost. More than 300,000 newborns in 22 countries benefitted from Embrace warmers. Organizations around the world have recognized this innovation, as well as influential people including Beyoncé and Barack Obama.

3D Printing for Developing Countries 

3D printing technology has resulted in huge advances in medicine. Specifically, 3D printing as a form of health technology for developing countries can help improve access to medical supplies. Developing prosthetics, setting up field hospitals and creating medical devices are all ways in which 3D printing can improve healthcare in developing countries.

Around the world, 80% of individuals who need prosthetics don’t have access to them. The e-NABLING the Future project is a network of volunteers who bring affordable 3D printing designs for hands and arms to those in need. There are many people in the developing world who have lost fingers or hands to war, natural disasters or disease. Through the 3D printing of prosthetics, these individuals have the opportunity to regain the use of their hands and fingers.

Doctors Without Borders has been looking into how 3D printing could be used for field hospital setups. Additionally, 3D printing allows for medical supplies to be produced directly in developing countries instead of being imported. This process can help spark medical development in poor areas instead of relying on products from other countries. Medical supplies produced by 3D printers include water testing kits that test for bacteria to determine if the water is safe for drinking and lab-in-a-box kits that are solar-powered and test for various diseases.

SMS Texting for Fake Drugs

Another increasingly pressing health issue is counterfeit medicine in sub-Saharan Africa. It is difficult to know exactly how many counterfeit drugs are circulating because the market is underground. However, there have been many counterfeit drug seizures in recent years. One out of every 10 medical drugs in all developing countries, and therefore most of Africa, is counterfeit or not standardized according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO also estimates that counterfeit medicine causes 116,000 deaths annually in Sub-Saharan Africa, costing $38.5 million every year.

While there needs to be structural reform to address the issue, a company founded in 2009 by Bright Simons from Ghana has developed a text messaging system so that users can verify whether the drugs they have are legitimate. The company has since grown and has helped more than 100 million individuals. Users must scan the drug’s barcode with their phone camera or text a code from the drug’s label to a hotline for verification.

Many exciting health technologies for developing countries have been introduced in recent years. These innovations can be extremely effective and have the potential to tackle global health issues, but proper access remains an issue. Simply developing these technologies does not ensure that underserved communities have access to them. Some of the most common issues regarding access are affordability, low supply and low production. This is due to the underestimation of the demand for products in developing countries. Developing access plans that take into account all of the social, economic and cultural barriers to access is crucial to ensure that these innovations can make an impact on global health in developing countries.

Maia Cullen
Photo: Flickr

Hemafuse: Clean Blood Transfusions in Impoverished CountriesIn the U.S., there are many people who are willing and able to donate their blood. With a large blood bank available, the U.S. does not have to use extreme measures to perform a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, this is not the case with many impoverished countries; getting a clean blood transfusion in most of these countries is simply not an option. However, a device called Hemafuse has been developed for doctors to help make these clean blood transfusions possible.

Due to the lack of blood donors in poverty-stricken countries, doctors use autologous transfusions to give the patients the blood they needed; this involves using the patient’s own blood for the transfusion. It could be obtained during hemothorax – a condition where the patient’s blood has pooled up in an open cavity, or, alternatively, they could also use the blood resulting from hemorrhaging during an ectopic pregnancy – pregnancy which occurs outside the uterus.

Originally, doctors had to scoop up the patient’s pooled blood with nothing but a soup ladle. They then took the blood collected from the soup ladle and poured it through a filtration system to make the blood cleaner for transfusion. Not only is this unsanitary, but it is a highly complicated process that takes many doctors to perform. It has saved a few lives in the past, but it is inadequate as a permanent solution.

The Hemafuse looks to alleviate all of those problems and make clean blood transfusions in impoverished countries happen. To operate the Hemafuse, doctors need to put the suction inlet into the pooled blood and then pull the pump. Blood is then filtered through the filtration system, removing clots and impurities. After the blood is collected, the doctor then pushes the pump and the blood is then moved into a separate blood bag that is connected to the side of the device. Once there, the blood can be used in a blood transfusion back to the patient the blood originally came from.

This is much safer and cleaner than using a soup ladle. The patient’s blood stays within a closed and sterile system rather than it being exposed to the elements. Not only that, it requires only one or two doctors to use rather than the eight or nine that were previously required. It also costs about $60 per patient use, which is much more affordable than the $250 a normal blood bag would cost.

The Hemafuse device has been backed by many prominent organizations such as USAID, UKAID and the Gates Foundation, among many others. Doctors want clean blood transfusions in impoverished countries to become widespread, so they are willingly coming around to performing clinical trials using Hemafuse. With this device, the soup ladle transfusion will hopefully become a procedure of the past and patients will finally be able to receive the – clean – lifesaving blood that they need.

Daniel Borjas
Photo: Flickr