Clinical Experience in Rwanda Informs Student-driven Design of Appropriate Technology
In the summer of 2013, thirteen students (ten undergraduate and three graduate students) from five universities across the U.S. participated in a two-month immersive program in Rwanda, Africa, as part of a three-year NCIIA-funded research and design program focused on developing and commercializing innovative solutions to global health challenges in resource-poor settings. Aside from language and technical training, students were placed in public hospitals throughout Rwanda for a month, where they worked with local biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) to repair medical equipment (112 pieces; ~225,000 USD) and perform needs assessments. Armed with insight gained from BMETs and on-the-ground experience derived from equipment repair, students proposed six device designs aimed at addressing critical needs. The most promising designs are being further developed by vertically integrated, interdisciplinary design teams at Texas A&M University. Prototypes will be field tested in Rwanda in the summer of 2014, and manufacturing and distribution pathways will be investigated.