Devices for Low-Resource Health Care

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Science  29 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6162, pp. 1055-1057
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243473

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Most of the world receives health care in low-resource settings (see the figure), yet medical technologies are designed to be used mainly in high-resource settings, where designers take for granted basic infrastructure that supports their safe use and effective distribution. The corridors of many hospitals in low-resource settings are lined with donated medical equipment, but up to three-quarters of these devices do not work, often due to lack of spare parts or consumables (1). As a result, most of the world's population lacks access to life-saving technologies developed decades ago, including infant incubators, oxygen concentrators, and simple laboratory diagnostics. In this Perspective, we review the challenges of developing and translating medical technologies and highlight promising new technologies to improve health in low-resource settings.