Innovative technologies key to saving lives
“Making technology available in low-resource settings is crucial for successful global health initiatives. Where infrastructure is limited, innovative approaches to design and implementation are needed to develop affordable and effective technology.” Dr Peter Bloomfield, Future Care Capital's Head of Policy and Research
The World Health Organization (WHO) has compiled a compendium of 24 new technologies that can be used in low-resource settings to treat Covid-19 and other priority diseases.
The compendium’s main objective was to select and assess technologies that can have an immediate and future impact on COVID-19 preparedness and response, potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life, and/or offer a solution to an unmet medical need.
Fifteen of the technologies are already commercially available in countries, while the rest are still at the prototype stage.
The compendium includes simple items ranging from a colourized bleach additive, which allows the naked eye to identify non-sterilized surfaces and objects, to more complex though easy-to-use equipment such as a portable respiratory monitoring system and ventilators with an extended battery that can be used where electricity is not available or unstable.
The list also includes a deployable health facility for emergencies decked out in a shipping container.
WHO say the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for innovative health technologies that can help countries improve health outcomes by providing shortcuts to solutions despite lack of infrastructure and resources.
Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director General for Access to Health Products, said: ““Innovative technologies are accelerating access to healthcare everywhere, but we must ensure that they are readily available in all health facilities, fairly priced and quality-assured.”
Many of the new technologies that have come to market are unaffordable or unsuitable for low – and middle-income countries.
“WHO will continue to work with governments, funders and manufacturers to promote sustainable supplies of these tools during and beyond the COVID emergency,” said Dr Simão.
WHO has been assessing innovative technologies for ten years. Some of the technologies are already in use and having proved their value in successful pilot programmes.
This includes a solar powered oxygen concentrator which has been highly effective in treating pneumonia. Given the shortage of oxygen in numerous countries, the concentrator is a critical tool in the treatment of hospitalized COVID patients, say WHO.
Their compendium gives a full assessment of the technologies carried out by a group of international experts working with WHO technical teams, on the basis of: compliance with WHO specifications regarding performance, quality and safety; suitability in low-resource settings; affordability; ease of use; and regulatory approval status.
Dr Peter Bloomfield, FCC’s Head of Policy and Research, said: “Making technology available in low-resource settings is crucial for successful global health initiatives. Where infrastructure is limited, innovative approaches to design and implementation are needed to develop affordable and effective technology.”
*FCC’s Spotlight on Innovation series will be highlighting some trailblazing latest innovations in new technology.