Medical Device Electronics Development in Resource Limited Settings: A Ugandan Perspective

Philippa N. Makobore, Dick Kamugasha, Peter Rolfe, Robert Ssekitoleko

Abstract


The availability of vital medical equipment for the care of neonates and infants in developing countries remains scarce largely due to the prohibitively high cost. The majority of this equipment is imported and for the most part inappropriate for use in a low resource environment. Devices that are electrically operated are usually unable to withstand prevailing intermittent power supply which is a common occurrence in both urban and rural areas of Uganda. Early, accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment can significantly reduce preventable child deaths. The use of embedded technology in designing medical devices for diagnostics and therapeutic treatment offers a high level of efficiency, reliability and robustness. Design considerations include elimination of unnecessary features; ease of usability and meeting international safety standards. Our case study will focus on the design and verification of a low cost solar-powered electronically controlled gravity-feed infusion set for the safe delivery of intravenous fluid and/or drugs to neonates and infants. Its unique feature is the ability to dynamically control the flow rate based on feedback from a drop monitoring module. Performance test results of the drop monitoring module pitted against a physical user count yields an accuracy of +/- 1count. Simple electronic medical devices designed under low resource setting constraints, can provide affordable, safe, accurate and efficient solutions to address this huge gap in the Ugandan healthcare sector. Once deployed in the field these devices have the potential to save many lives.

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