Timothy Prestero from Design that Matters, Gregory Dajer from Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS) and Luciano Moccia from Day One Health have just launched a new partnership to accelerate the development of improved low-cost infant medical devices for low resource countries.
The partnership will raise a fund of $3.5M over the next three years to accomplish the following:
Scale Firefly phototherapy implementations around the world, adding the capacity to treat 100,000 newborns each year and to treat a total of 500,000 newborns by 2024.
Develop the ideal package of newborn care technologies to allow remote first-line hospitals with limited staff training and unreliable access to electricity to diagnose and treat such critical health issues as jaundice, hypothermia, sepsis and pneumonia.
Develop a complete package of newborn care technologies for referral hospitals in low-resource countries to treat such critical health issues as respiratory distress, complications of prematurity and very low birthweight.
Almost all of the 4M newborn deaths around the world every year occur in developing countries. Hospitals and caregivers attempting to save newborn lives are hamstrung by equipment designed for American or European hospitals. In the context of a low-resource hospital, conventional medical devices are too expensive, too complicated and too difficult to maintain. As a result, the World Health Organization estimates that less than a third of donated medical devices are ever turned on once--a waste of roughly $250M in aid every year. Given the lack of service staff and spare parts, every hospital in the developing world has a graveyard of broken medical devices (see below).
Our first focus is on hospitals and global health NGOs who seek to treat newborns at the point of diagnosis rather than risk referring them to crowded central facilities. We will develop a suite of medical devices to allow rural hospitals with limited resources and inexperienced staff to treat common life-threatening conditions like jaundice, hypothermia and pneumonia. Unlike the conventional medical devices these facilities might receive through international donations or a government purchase, we will provide equipment that is “easy to use right and hard to use wrong”--in other words devices that eliminates the most common sources of product failure and user error.
Our second focus is on the referral hospitals who are challenged to treat the most vulnerable newborn patients with conditions like respiratory distress, complications of prematurity and low birthweight. We will create a suite of cost-effective medical devices that will reduce opportunities for user-error. We will also eliminated the need for imported “consumables” like single-use temperature probes and disposable tubing that can add a heavy burden to the total cost of device ownership.
This partnership will collaborate with caregivers, the global health community and hundreds of students and professional volunteers to tackle these challenges. We will focus on creating impact in areas not served by market-based solutions. Given our expertise in human-centered design, rapid prototyping, cost-effective low-volume manufacture and user-training, we will be able to deliver breakthrough global health technologies to niche markets in poor countries at a fraction of the traditional R&D investment. Our track record as collaborators demonstrates our ability to deliver social impact in the face of market failure.
We expect this program’s impact to reach far beyond the newborns treated by the medical devices we design and implement. The health impact data produced by this scale of implementation will allow the partnership to establish “reference designs” for newborn care in low-resource settings. This is the end game for a product like Firefly: changing international standards, influencing the purchasing priorities of governments and large aid organizations--and thus providing an overwhelming incentive for multinational medical device manufacturers to follow our lead and imitate our products. In this way, we have the leverage to improve the health outcomes for millions of the most vulnerable newborns.
We have ambitious plans to save lots of babies, and we’ll need your help!
Students: contact DtM to learn how you might contribute to a DtM design sprint, either through a university course or as an summer Design Fellow.
Professional volunteers: contact DtM to learn how to donate your expertise, whether by mentoring a student team, helping us to file patents and regulatory documents, participating in a brainstorming session or a design review and even joining us in the field during background research, user interviews and follow-up observations.
Donors: we are focusing on problems that the conventional medical device industry has proven unable to solve. Anyone can make a donation, and every donation gets us closer to our goal of eliminating disability and death caused by health conditions and diseases we already know how to treat.
ABOUT THE TEAM
Tim, Greg and Luciano have already collaborated on the design of the Firefly phototherapy device. Firefly received CE mark certification, and the device was listed in the World Health Organization Compendium of Medical Technologies. The partners have distributed Firefly to 23 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, including Haiti, Uganda, Myanmar, and Vietnam. These Firefly devices have already treated over 125,000 newborns and will treat at least 310,000 over their lifetime.
The partnership leads have decades of experience in medical device design, in manufacturing and quality control, in user-training and long-term monitoring and evaluation:
Timothy Prestero, CEO of Design that Matters, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, and he has led design and global projects in two dozen countries across Africa, Latin America and Asia. He holds two graduate engineering degrees from MIT. He is a Martin Fellow at MIT, an Ashoka Affiliate and a Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow. Tim’s TED talk, Design for People, Not Awards, has been viewed nearly 1 million times. DtM's work has been featured in the New York Times and on CNN and recognized with dozens of international design awards. In 2012, the nonprofit received the National Design Award during lunch at the White House with Michelle Obama. Tim lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
Gregory Dajer, CEO of MTTS Asia, has led MTTS through the successful development of three CE Mark certified newborn health technologies, including the Firefly phototherapy device, the Dolphin newborn CPAP and the Colibri overhead phototherapy device. Greg is experienced with international regulatory standards for medical devices, and with managing production processes that include outsource manufacturing partners in China, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam. MTTS has installed more than 3,000 medical devices in 350 hospitals in 25 countries. In 2017, Greg was named a Fellow for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Greg holds a MS degree in Economics from the University of Gdansk, and completed from the Santa Clara University Global Social Benefit Incubator Accelerator program in 2014. Greg live in Hanoi, Vietnam with his wife and MTTS cofounder Nga Tuyet Trang and their son and daughter.
Luciano Moccia, CEO of Day One Health, is an expert in global health and international development, and has led newborn health programs in Asia and Africa for fifteen years. As the International Director of the Breath of Life Program of East Meets West Foundation, in nine years Luciano raised more than US$10M dollars for newborn health, and directed the implementation of comprehensive programs (equipment, training, capacity building) in 23 countries across Asia and Africa--leading to the treatment of more than 450,000 newborns. Luciano holds a MS degree in Political Economy from the University of Trento, Italy, and an MA in Science and Technology from the University of Roskilde, Denmark. Luciano has co-authored more than 10 articles in peer-reviewed medical journals on the subject of intensive newborn care in low resource countries. He lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina with his wife and daughter.