Designers help people to see and medicine to hitch a ride with cola

Adaptive-eyewear

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
countries.

The first
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
focus,
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 &
field visits. 

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.

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If I get sick, will she know what to do?

Access_healthcare Copyright: John & Penny Hubley

 

This blog is contributed by Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Coordinator of HIFA2015 , the global campaign and email forum focussed on informed healthcare provision in developing countries. We in richer countries take for granted that our healthcare providers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions...

Every person has access to a healthcare provider. (Nearly every person – there are sadly a number of people who are destitute, utterly alone and abandoned by everyone around them.) I use the term ‘healthcare provider’ to mean anyone who is responsible for providing care at any moment, including and especially parents and family caregivers. Even the very poor have access to a healthcare provider.

The problem is, if you are one of the world’s majority poor, the chances are that your healthcare provider will be uninformed. As a result, you are likely to receive ineffective or harmful care, and you may die simply as a result of this care.

You are most likely to die in the home or local community, without seeing a trained health worker. The most high-level healthcare provider present in your final hours and minutes may be your mother, a family caregiver, a traditional healer, a village health worker or perhaps a midlevel health worker. Their decisions will mean the difference between life and death, between your living for another day or becoming a statistic  -  one of the tens of thousands of children and adults who die prematurely and unnecessarily every day in low-income countries.

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