This year’s “Designs
of the Year” (an annual competition staged by Design Museum, London)
include two entries focussed on improving the health of people in developing
is a pair of spectacles, whose lenses are filled with liquid silicon
via mini-syringes in the arms. All the wearer has to do is adjust a dial
to fill the lens (so changing its shape) until the world comes into
their refractive error corrected. Thus you don’t need an optometrist to work
out your prescription for you.
Optometrists are in short supply in Africa &
India, so even if you can get hold of a pair of donated spectacle frames &
maybe the money to pay for the lenses ( =3 months wages in Africa), you mostly can’t
get someone to assess your prescription! Uncorrected refractive error and
cataract are the major causes of blindness in developing countries. There’s
only so much Unite for Sight and Vision20:20 can do in training &
These spectacles, whilst not high-fashion, will eliminate
the need for lens prescriptions and expert fitting, and would seem to be the
solution to getting 1 billion people to see properly for the first time.
The second design addresses the problem of getting a known
lifesaving treatment (oral rehydration salts therapy, ORT) to children with diarrhea in
rural villages. You can see ads for bottled
cola and buy it in almost every village in Africa (along with your mobile phone
supplies), and the bottles are delivered in crates. A clever couple have
designed an ORT kit (Kit Yamoy) which
fits snugly inbetween the necks of the bottles in the crate. Kit Yamoy provides
rehydration salts & clean water in separate sachets, a bar of soap to wash
your hands, and the container its all packed in acts as both measure and
drinking cup. Each sachet is enough for one dose to save the life of a child
with diarrhoea: a crate can carry many kits and of course you don’t have to pay
transport costs, because it comes along with the cola!
It is to be hoped that, whether or not these designs become
the overall winner, there is interest in the aid community, local and regional
governments of developing countries or even the design community/ad agencies, such as Saatchi
& Saatchi TO provide funding to cover the costs of supplying the spectacles
and ORT Cola-kit.
You can see these designs, along with a wheelchair that
folds flat and a bicycle mounted digital printer outlet (!), by physically
visiting the Design Museum exhibition or get a taste online at Highlights of
Design Awards 2013
I hope writing this blog spreads the word about these 2 brilliant
designs BUT to make absolutely sure, I will be sending information on them
direct to the people who could make use of them or who could inform others
about them. I will be sending it to HIFA2015,
a campaign and knowledge network with more than 6,000 members
in 167 countries worldwide. The campaign is to
ensure everyone wherever they are has access to lifesaving health information.
Its not just Africa and India that need these designs. A quick
search on CABI’s Global Health database using
[de:("vision disorders" and epidemiology) AND cc:vv600 AND
de:(children OR adolescents]), reveals they
are needed across the world by poor
communities in Peru, Indonesia, Vietnam, and even Eastern Europe!
Related News & Blogs
One Health working will improve health and well-being of us all: plant, animal, human and ecosystem!
For One Health Day November 3, 2016, CABI editor Wendie Norris blogs about “One Health beyond early detection and control of zoonoses” an RSTMH 2016 talk by CABI author Esther Schellling (Swiss Tropical Public Health). Describing research projects on nomadic pastoralists in Chad and Rift Valley Fever (RVF) control in Kenya, Esther drew attention to the need for interdisciplinary studies to include an evaluation of One Health working, involvement of social scientists, engagement of key stakeholders. Tellingly she provided a cost-benefit analysis to society of controlling zoonoses when the disease is in its animal host before it infects human beings.
28 October 2016
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