While we don’t doubt the good intentions behind the sending of medial equipment to developing countries, according to Jose Gomez-Marquez who is the program director for MIT’s Innovations in International Health, they often tend to fail because the medical equipment being sent over was not designed for use in developing countries. This is why he aims to teach medical professionals in the developing world on how to “hack” ordinary objects and turn them into medical devices.
In the video that you can watch at CNET’s website, Jose shows how he managed to use a bike pump to power a nebulizer, a device used to deliver medication in mist form into the lungs (usually used by asthmatic patients) which is normally run by electricity. Doctors can even use printers to cut out designs which can be photographed using a cellphone and sent as a text message or to a cloud to be further analyzed or be read on the spot instantly. He even suggests using Lego as lab-on-a-chip devices, allowing doctors to conduct tests depending on their diagnostic needs.
Sounds like pretty cool stuff, almost MacGyver-ish, but at least the next time you want to throw some old Lego out that you no longer use, perhaps sending them over to Jose might see them being put to better use.
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