Technological advances are increasingly frequent; there are inventions that promise to improve the lives of people almost immediately. And there are thousands of people behind each new advance. The technology goes hand in hand with creativity and the ability to improve the lives of others in a simple way.
Some of the new advances in medical treatment are simple solutions for big problems and only cost a few dollars. Thirty of them were recently chosen in a report by the Innovation Countdown 2030, an initiative that identifies high-impact technologies that can transform the world in the next 15 years. The initiative aims to make them available to everyone, although patent rights are sometimes a challenge.
They are tools that could revolutionize global health and save millions of lives around the globe by their invention. We select the best eight.
A nylon aid for complicated deliveries
This low-cost contraption helps during the final stages of difficult deliveries, where complications can lead to bleeding in the mother and asphyxia and trauma in the newborn.
The polyethylene sleeve that is wrapped and inflated around the baby’s head is safer and easier to apply than the forceps or a vacuum extractor, being a good alternative for health workers less trained. And it comes folded in a small and modest bag, very useful for remote places.
A box to drink safe water
The chlorinating machine addresses the water crisis in developing countries and is being tested in households in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. This big blue box has a pre-filled dispenser with a solution of sodium hypochlorite (bleach, in other words).
When connected to a water source, the incoming liquid pressure triggers the release of the correct amount of chlorine to disinfect the water: a simple solution that experts estimate could save 1.5 million lives by 2030.
The vertical ventilator for newborns at risk
One in ten newborns in the world has trouble breathing immediately after birth. This reusable and easy-to-use resuscitator is designed to prevent deaths in low-resource settings, where there may be no access to proper equipment that helps babies breathe.
It has a plastic bulb that inflates the unconscious baby’s lungs when the nurse squeezes it. And also the vertical design is unique to improve the sealing of the mask in a scenario where every particle of air counts.
Contraceptive in a single prick
Injectable contraception is one of the most popular methods for preventing pregnancies in developing countries, but until now it has not been widely available in all hospitals and medical centers.
Now, a simple dose of a contraceptive, packed in a bubble, with a needle to inject under the skin is being distributed in Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal, and Uganda. A puncture provides three months of protection, and health experts emphasize that it can be applied with minimal training, which could allow women to administer them themselves.
Diagnosis of malaria in a second
The global malaria epidemic amounts to 200 million cases per year and is at risk of 3.3 million worldwide. This equipment uses magnetic fields and light to detect malaria parasites, a simpler method than those based on temperature-sensitive reagents. It is also faster since the analysis of a blood sample can take only one or two seconds.
Eye check for non-experts
Most of the 300 million people who suffer from loss of important vision or blindness in the world live in low-income countries, especially in Asia. And vision problems will probably grow with the aging of the population.
So experts believe that access to diagnosis is key and better the more portable the instruments are. This innovation of screening device detects the first signs of eye diseases. Many others do, but what makes this different is that it is easy to carry and easy to handle by a minimally trained technician who can then store the data on a website for evaluation by an ophthalmologist who is anywhere.