A recent collaboration between The Lancet and Imperial College London has led to a new Commission on Technologies for Global Health (launched today) that explores how medical technology (that tends to be developed in wealthy countries) can most effectively be utilized to improve health outcomes in low and middle income countries. The report looks into the appropriateness of existing technologies–and highlights examples of highly effective and context-appropriate global health technologies. Interestingly, the report notes that, “According to hospital inventories, an estimated 40% of healthcare equipment in developing countries is out of service, compared with less than 1% in high-income countries,” raising big questions about the effectiveness of technologies developed in rich countries being deployed to resource-poor settings.
From the executive summary of the new Commission:
Instead of relying on hand-me-down technologies from wealthier countries, which can be costly, inappropriate for local conditions, and even dangerous, the authors urge a renewed effort towards developing what they call “frugal technologies”—cost-effective technologies that are developed specifically to cope in local conditions. Examples of frugal technologies which have been developed to meet local needs include: the Jaipur foot, a rubber prosthetic for people who have lost their leg and foot below the knee; PATH’s Uniject injection system, which allows once-only use of needles for injectable contraceptives; and the eRanger, a durable rural ambulance, based around a motorbike and stretcher sidecar (which can be modified to carry one or two people).
Read the full executive summary of the Commission.
Read the Lancet Editorial that accompanies the new Commission: Technologies for Global Health
Read the BBC story about the new Commission: Medical Equipment ‘Undermining Aid Effort’
More on Global Health technologies:
Learn more about WHO’s Compendium of Global Health Technologies.
Discover MANDATE’s Maternal and Neonatal Health Technology Briefs.
Take a look at Maternova’s Innovation Index that tracks new technologies that aim to improve the health of mothers and newborns.