April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
April 10, 2021
For populations in low-resource countries, access to proper healthcare is often hindered due to lack of functional medical equipment. In these settings, realistic equity requires adjustment of traditional engineering design priorities to maximize usability and benefit to the healthcare facility. Minimalism, efficiency, and on-the-ground practical value must be prioritized over the urge to design flashy, complicated, or state-of-the-art equipment. Northeastern University Innovators for Global Health (NU-IGH) is a student organization located in Boston, MA focused on improving global access to medical technology. Students in NU-IGH recently began a partnership with St. Paul’s Hospital Millenium Medical College (SPHMMC), a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Four undergraduate students and a faculty mentor traveled to the hospital in 2019 to make a preliminary assessment of engineering needs, interviewing hospital employees across multiple departments and levels of administrative hierarchy. The group identified a critical need for a surgical lamp optimized for the demands of SPHMMC. Design constraints would include low-cost and accessible parts, ease of use and repair, and ability to operate continuously despite frequent, short-term electrical power outages. The students spent one and a half semesters designing and building just such a surgical lamp. They researched both traditional surgical lamp standards and the particular needs of low-resource hospitals in Addis Ababa, crafting a design to ensure both safety and practicality. The project resulted in a functional surgical lamp that is approved for use at SPHMMC and which can be produced for a fraction of the typical price of surgical lamps in the United States. The final prototype uses LED bulbs, which are cheaper, longer-lasting, and easier to procure than standard halogen bulbs, and is interchangeably powered by a wall outlet or a standard, 12V car battery. The surgical lamp’s ease of assembly allows for production with simple tools and parts that are accessible in Addis Ababa, which is vital for any medical equipment made for use in low-resource settings. This lamp enables hospital staff to perform life-saving surgeries. Students traveled again to Addis Ababa in 2020 to assemble the prototype alongside SPHMMC’s biomedical students, to present a report on the lamp so that additional copies can be made by hospital staff, and to participate in knowledge exchange and needs assessment for future NU-IGH projects. This paper will present this project’s conception and results in the context of the lessons learned by the students that are of use to students and faculty at other schools who might seek to undertake similar projects.
Fuller, K. P., & Lopreiato, A. J., & Schodowski, R. L., & Silverman, A. W., & Bowman, S. L., & Tov, C. E., & Hertz, J. L. (2021, April), Development of a Surgical Lamp for Ethiopia by Undergraduate Innovators for Global Health Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . https://peer.asee.org/36295
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