By Lorrin Windahl.
A lot of second-hand medical devices are donated to developing countries. Although carried out with good intentions, the devices never quite have the impact that was envisaged for them by the donator. The problem is, that when they fail there are no spare parts available locally and no-one knows how to fix them. So, instead of helping to save lives they are left to collect dust in the corner of the room. The NeoNurture incubator by Design That Matters (DTM) aims to overcome this problem.
According to the DTM website, 4 million infants in developing countries die within a month of birth. And shockingly, half of these could survive if they just had a clean, warm environment in which to prosper. Even though incubators do exist in these regions, a lack of infrastructure and limited supply of spare parts makes them somewhat useless.
NeoNurture, however, has been developed with this in mind. It takes advantage of the abundance of car parts in developing countries. And from my experience this is true. When I lived in Uganda, my local town Mbale had a whole street of motor mechanics. No surprise really, considering the terrible roads and the amount of dilapidated combis providing public transport.
The design of the incubator incorporates common parts such as car headlights, a dashboard fan, signal lights, a door chime, a motorcycle battery and a car cigarette lighter. A car mechanic can maintain the incubator and the spare parts are locally accessible given existing supply chains.
This sensitive solution ensures that the product is sustainable and actually useful in the long term.