The developed world is often seen as the beacon of scientific innovation, while the developing world seems to wallow in poverty and underdevelopment. In spite of the challenges that citizens of developing countries face, they have managed to achieve some impressive scientific breakthroughs that benefit the whole world. In this article, The Borgen Project highlights four scientific developments from the developing world.

Cuban Lung Cancer Vaccine
Cuba is a small island nation where state workers are paid $20 per month, and there are shortages of everything from electricity to internet access. In spite of their lack of technology and their slim salaries, Cuban doctors have developed the world’s first lung cancer vaccine. The Cuban Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana developed CimaVax as the first treatment of its kind against one of the deadliest forms of cancer. Cimavax is relatively cheap to produce and store, has low toxicity and appears to cause only mild side effects. It is available in some Latin American countries and has already begun tests in the United States, the United Kingdom and other developed nations.

Sierra Leonean Breast Cancer Treatment
Sierra Leone is a poor West African country that has recently been ravaged by civil war and an Ebola outbreak. It is also home to Sandra Musujusu, the developer of an alternative treatment for breast cancer. The World Bank’s Academic Centers of Excellence project in Africa funded Musujusu’s research at the University of Science and Technology, Abuja, in Nigeria. The new treatment focuses on the development of biodegradable polymers for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer. By treating this aggressive sub-type of breast cancer common in women of African descent, Sandra Musujusu is pioneering a treatment for women worldwide.

Kenyan App to End FGM
One in four Kenyan girls experiences the traumatic human rights violation of female genital mutilation. The self-named “Restorers,” a group of Kenyan teenage girls, have developed an app to stop this cruel practice. The app, I-Cut, offers numerous services, including connecting at-risk girls with rescue centers and providing medical and legal help to girls who have been cut. The app is so impressive and important for thousands of girls that the Restorers became the only Africans to be invited to Google’s international Tehcnovation competition in California.

Kenyan Toilets that Turn Waste into Fuel
Even though it was founded by two American students, Sanivation is now a Kenyan startup that employs 650 Kenyans and serves a vast East African population. Sanivation addresses the dangers of insufficient waste disposal and sanitation systems by installing special toilets in homes in East Africa. In developing countries like Kenya, 90 percent of waste is disposed of without treatment. These toilets not only provide safe and healthy sanitation but also turn human waste into sustainable and eco-friendly fuel. In this way, the special toilets provide sanitation and a fuel source to the impoverished population while working to stave off climate change.

These are just a few of the scientific developments from the developing world. While they do not negate the serious problems that plague people in these areas, they do paint a brighter picture for developing nations and for us all.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr