Malawi Wound Care
Our group is addressing one of the biggest global public health problems, according to the World Health Organization: burns. Each year an estimated 180,000 people die because of burns, and the vast majority of these deaths come from low-income countries. A lot of steps have been taken in the form of burn prevention, but not enough has been done in the way of advancing burn care treatment. Studies find that the reason for such a high mortality rate from burn injuries in those low-income countries is a lack of burn care knowledge and resources, resulting in infections. The hospitals don’t have the financial means to afford some of the more complicated burn treatment machines that we use, nor do they have the time and money to train hospital staff in the proper procedures. We focused on one of the countries where this issue is most prevalent: Malawi. People of all ages can be affected by burns, but it is found most commonly in children and in women. Specifically, we researched the hospital that our community partner has ties to, and we found issues of unsterile equipment, improper use of antibiotics, and an overall lack of resources. Moreover, burn patients are currently being moved across the hospital for treatment, which exposes them to numerous infections from other patients.
Our solution is a portable shower that uses a low concentration soap solution and adequate water pressure that can debride and disinfect the wounds. One of the most effective features of our solution is the portability of the shower, which allows the device to be moved around the hospital and to various other satellite clinics. This eliminates patient exposure to infection and and allows the wounds to heal properly. Currently, we are in the prototyping phase of our design and have gathered materials we need in order to start testing. Working with our community partner, we have determined user needs and are using the criteria to adapt pre-existing garden sprayers for a medical setting. We are current testing the materials of our design to ensure that they are medically safe for soft tissue injuries. This semester goal is to develop a functioning prototype that we can have ready to take to Malawi this coming summer. What this means specifically is that we need to determine how we are going to incorporate a water filter into our design, and determine a way to connect all of the different parts of our design.