The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) last week announced additional nominees for awards in the Fighting Ebola: a Grand Challenge for Development.
A collaborative expert review identified 12 innovations that can reinforce the response to current and future Ebola outbreaks.
“We are embracing a new model of development–one that harnesses the power of science and technology to bend the curve of development,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “Through the Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge, we will continue to source, test, and scale groundbreaking innovations that will not only save lives in the months to come, but lay the foundation for more resilient and vibrant communities across West Africa.”
Led by USAID, the Challenge launched in early October sourced new, practical solutions in close collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense, and field experts. In just two months, the Challenge received over 1,500 ideas from around the world. U.S. Government experts and international partners evaluated and selected the most promising ideas.
Building off of the initial set of solutions for health care worker safety announced last December, this second wave of award nominees announces solutions for a broader range of gaps from improved health care worker tools, more rapidly-deployable care settings and fresh community education approaches critical for the final stages of the outbreak response, and cutting-edge health information technology solutions that enhance the current response and provide a bridge toward longer-term recovery.
Together, these innovations will work to strengthen Ebola-affected communities and health care systems, establishing a foundation for resilience.
The following innovations will receive financial and/or other support and undergo intensive testing to ensure readiness for production and field deployment:
- Wearable Patient Sensors – The Scripps Translational Science Institute in partnership with PhysIQ, Rhythm Diagnostic Systems and Sotera. Includes a disposable, Bluetooth-enabled sensor that attaches like a band-aid and allows for remote monitoring of Ebola patients’ critical vital signs.
- DripAssist – Shift Labs. Low-cost, battery-powered infusion monitor that delivers fluids with precision to patients, eliminating the risk of fluid overload and enhancing survival.
- Emergency ‘Smart’ Pod – Baylor College of Medicine. Repurposed, easy-to-access shipping containers as scalable, rapidly deployable and potentially semi-permanent Ebola treatment units that include training and process pathways, as well as patient and supply tracking systems.
- Rapidly Deployable ETUs – Modula S Inc. Modular and rapidly deployable treatment units that use ultra-efficient building envelope technology to moderate unit temperature and simplify decontamination efforts for safer, more comfortable conditions.
- Reimagined Ebola Treatment Units – ResilientAfrica Network and Makerere University School of Public Health. Redesigned Ebola treatment tents that improve working conditions by significantly increasing air flow and decreasing temperature through ergonomic design and porous walls.
- Re-Engineered Health Care Worker Suit – International Personnel Protection in partnership with Cornell University and Kappler. Protective suit for healthcare workers re-engineered to be more breathable while still providing leak-free barrier protection, improved hood design and easier doffing/removal.
- Decontamination Chambers – TOMI Environmental Solutions. State-of-the-art, easy-to-assemble chambers that decontaminate health care workers and equipment in less than three minutes without hazardous chemicals.
- Highlight: Powdered Bleach Additive to Enhance Decontamination – Columbia University. Powdered additive that colorizes standard bleach solution, providing a visualization of sprayed surfaces, which ensures increased coverage and proper decontamination.
- Community Education Platform – IBM Research – Africa. Partnership with IBM to launch an innovative community engagement platform that facilitates two-way communication between public health officials and citizens using basic mobile phones to generate real-time, on-the ground information about public perceptions and community needs.
- Africa Stop Ebola Music and Media Campaign – 3D Family Productions / SOAS, University of London. Song recorded in local languages by twelve of West Africa’s most famous musical artists to promote communities’ adoption of behaviors that prevent Ebola transmission.
- CommCare – Dimagi. An open source mobile platform that supports health data collection, decision support, client tracking, SMS communication, and map-based visuals to alleviate current communication burden and disconnect.
- mHero – IntraHealth International. A dynamic, integrated health management system that tackles the core communication gaps present in Ebola-affected communities, including contact tracing and clinical case management tools.
“Through a whole-of-government approach, USAID and our U.S. Government partners are contributing to mounting an aggressive international effort to fight the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” stated USAID in a press release. “Our goal is to enable the most effective international response possible, using our government-wide capabilities to fight the epidemic on a regional basis.”