Abhishek Agarwal, Kunal Sur and David Kelso examine a product prototype of an HIV testing device.
     
  Technologies

Health care delivery environments in resource-constrained settings are noticeably different than those in traditional commercial markets.  For example, the lack of health care workers available to draw blood, run complex laboratory equipment, and interpret results of HIV tests is a problem for even the most developed of African nations.  In South Africa, the ratio of health care workers is estimated at 7 per 1000 compared with 56 health care workers per 1000 in the population in the United States.  In addition to the acute deficit of human skills, many African countries lack essential infrastructure components such as a reliable supply of electricity which, rules out existing devices that require sustained refrigeration.  Further, the ability of patients or health care systems to pay for medical diagnostics is significantly below the prices that for-profit corporations developing diagnostics need to charge in order to custom- design their health care products.  Together these factors suggest that manufacturers of medical devices for use in developing countries face an entirely different market compared to developed economies. As a consequence, simply donating existing equipment will not satisfy the existing need. Rather, what is needed are sustained research and development efforts addressing the unique contours of these environments. 

Northwestern University is working two companies, Abbott Laboratories and Inverness Medical, to redesign existing IP to develop technologies that not only diagnose those with HIV but also technologies that help manage the HIV positive patient manage the disease going forward.

Above photo: Abhishek Agarwal, Kunal Sur and David Kelso examine a product prototype of an HIV testing device.
Photo by Andrew Campbell