First toothbrush prototypes to enter testing

Good dental hygiene is a very important part of one’s health and personal well-being. According to the WHO, it can affect self-esteem, school performance, and attendance to work or education. While it seems to us like a daily routine and fundamental part of personal healthcare for many people in Madagascar it is not the norm. Oral health inequalities, something often overlooked, especially affect people with a low socioeconomic status in Madagascar -as of 2012- nearly 80.7 % live with less than 2.15 $ per day. For this reason, an imported plastic toothbrush is not affordable for many households, especially not for every member of the family, and not a priority. Often dentists are not available or affordable. Additionally, the lack of education is another issue when it comes to oral hygiene in Madagascar.

Production of an early prototype
Production of an early prototype body

Our team from MedTech One World Students e.V. (MTOWS) has set its goal to improve these circumstances by designing a locally manufacturable toothbrush. The toothbrush should be sustainable, be affordable, provide jobs and a reliable access for the local community as no resources need to be imported. Instead, only locally produced materials shall be used. Further, we may even be able to export our sustainable toothbrush manufactured under fair working conditions to create further income for the Madagascans.
In cooperation with Planet Action e.V. and the Deutsch-Madagassischer Verein Esslingen e.V. (DMVE), we are working on establishing a self-sustaining production of bamboo toothbrushes in Madagascar. The toothbrushes are distributed and used by volunteer physicians of Planet Action e.V.. These physicians travel to Madagascar several times a year to provide free dental health care service to the local population. Instead of buying conventional plastic toothbrushes from global companies outside of Madagascar, the aim is to use locally produced bamboo toothbrushes in the future.

The alliance of the three non-profit associations forms a partnership in which each project partner can contribute according to their field of expertise. Planet Action e.V., represented by Felix Geidel, initiated the project and takes care of organisational and coordinative issues like financing as well as the medical side of the project. DMVE e.V., represented by Dorothee Schäfer and Klaus Meyer, supports a broad network of contacts and production partners with years of experience in Madagascar. MTOWS e.V., represented by Leonie Gartner, Fabian Jodeit and our active students, supports the project with medical engineering expertise: covering the technical aspects of the project such as the design of the toothbrush and the manufacturing technique which can work in Madagascar.

After the project launch and the first online meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic, we were finally able to meet in person at the workshop of the chair of Medical Materials and Implants and could enhance our progress. Together, we started planning and designing the toothbrush, followed up by crafting the first prototypes. We tried several approaches and designs in order to find the best concept and the best measurements. We investigated different existing patents on the market, discussed various manufacturing methods and materials. Further, we experimented with our prototypes and tested the toothbrushes on our own.

With the support of the dentists from Planet Action e.V., we developed more and more stable bamboo bodies as well as improved hygienic effectiveness and simple handling.
For a toothbrush to function, we did not only need to develop a sustainable and easily manufacturable toothbrush body, but also a dense and soft toothbrush head that can withstand the complex and alternating forces while brushing one’s teeth.

A toothbrush prototype using Miswak
A toothbrush prototype using Miswak

Swak Experience UG kindly offered us support in developing the toothbrush and shared their knowledge in manufacturing Miswak. This natural material is a teeth-cleaning twig made from the Salvadora persica tree that is used for oral hygiene traditionally. It is effective, sustainable and has an antibacterial activity to reduce dental plaque. Traditionally a whole stick of Miswak is chewed to clean the teeth. However, we adapted the handling and developed a robust method to connect the bamboo body with the Miswak head. By now, it can be used similarly to a normal toothbrush with similar outcomes even without toothpaste. Unfortunately, Miswak is not domestic in Madagascar. This is a challenge we need to address in the future, for example by importing or replacing it with a similar plant.

For us, the MTOWS, the next steps of this project will be the procurement of local raw materials in Madagascar and analysing its handling compared to our used materials. Furthermore, we are looking into local alternatives to Miswak. While working on this project, we always follow the goal to ensure a locally produced, inexpensive, and sustainable method of production.

In addition, we are already setting up production sites in Madagascar with the help of DMVE, ensuring the required machines and resources are available, and the production technique is understood by the local workers.

To understand the situation better, we are planning a trip to the local production site in September, and therefore need to finalise our prototypes by then and make the last decisions concerning the final shape and manufacturing methods.

Currently, we are ten active members in the Madagascar team, but we are always looking for new students who would like to join us. Together, we have the vision to create an impact on many people in Madagascar and change their lives for the better. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are always keen to meet like-minded people and to get inspired by different views.

Learn more about who we are and send us an email!

Let’s reach our goal together and make this work. Be part of an innovative interdisciplinary group and have an impact on people’s lives!

Author: Julia Schmidbauer

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A big thank you to i.nez!

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Donation of prototyping funds

Our Litum project is making great progress! As we now move towards building our first prototype, we are generously supported by the International Network for Cooperation in Mental Health (i.nez) with a prototyping fund of 2,500 EUR.
 
Our friends from i.nez are dedicated to supporting projects, which aim to improve mental health care around the world, and promoting an active exchange with developing countries. Sounds just like our Litum project, doesn’t it? We totally agree – so from now on, we are very happy to join forces on making lithium measurable all over the world and ultimately, enabling every patient to exploit the full therapeutic potential.
 
As a next step, our team will buy the materials to build the detector and conduct first experiments. Stay tuned!
 
Authors: Lucas Mair & Susanne Meyer

Lithium blood test for patients with bipolar disorder in developing countries

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THE “LITUM” PROJECT

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder where affected individuals alternate between manic and depressive episodes. The most commonly used medication to help such people prevent future episodes is lithium, taken orally. In order to calibrate the proper dose of medication for each patient, it is important to frequently measure the blood concentration levels of lithium, especially at the start of treatment.

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The main reson for this is that lithium actually has toxic effects if the blood concentration levels exceed 1.5 mmol/L. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness and motor impairment. However, in order for the medication to be effective, concentrations of 0.6 – 1.2 mmol/L are required.

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In developed countries, hospitals and doctor’s offices have access to high-cost lab equipment that can measure the blood levels of a variety of electrolytes including lithium. In developing countries however, the investment and maintenance cost of such devices is too high, resulting in little use of lithium for medical purposes.

To solve this problem, our goal is to design an inexpensive, robust and easily reproducible device to measure the lithium concentration in blood of patients with bipolar disorder.

THE TEAM

  • Nicolas Niessen
  • Susanne Meyer
  • Lucas Mair
  • Teodora Raicevic
  • Wolfgang Krahl

Our project team consists of four students from MedTech One World Students e.V. as well as psychiatrist Dr. med. Krahl, an expert in global health.

Author: Lucas Mair

Initiative on locally manufactured sustainable toothbrushes in Madagascar

In cooperation with Planet Action e.V. and the Deutsch-Madagassischer Verein Esslingen e.V. (DMVE), MedTech One World Students e.V. (MTOWS) is working on establishing a production of sustainable bamboo toothbrushes in Madagascar.

Logos of the three non-profit associations involved in the Madagascar Toothbrush project.

The project shall provide the local population with toothbrushes – a fundamental part of primary dental healthcare – and furthermore provide sustainable work and income for the local participants of the project. The toothbrushes will be distributed and used by volunteer physicians of Planet Action e.V., which travel to Madagascar several times a year to provide free dental health care service to the local population. Instead of buying conventional plastic toothbrushes from global companies outside of Madagascar it is the aim to use locally produced bamboo toothbrushes in the future.

First personal meeting of all three project partners at the Technical University of Munich in June 2020. Standing, from left to right: Klaus Meyer and Dorothee Schäfer (DMVE e.V.), Fabian Jodeit, Prof. Petra Mela, Martin Bachl, Baturay Yalvaç, Dario Arcuti, Nils Kraschienski (MTOWS e.V.). Sitting: Felix Geidel (Planet Action e.V.).

The alliance of the three non-profit associations is aimed at forming a partnership in which each project partner can contribute according to his field of expertise. Planet Action e.V., represented by Felix Geidel, is the initiator of the project and takes care of organizational and coordinative issues like financing as well as the medical side of the project. DMVE e.V., represented by Dorothee Schäfer and Klaus Meyer, supports with a broad network of contacts and production partners in Madagascar and years of experience in the Madagascan environment. MTOWS e.V., represented by Fabian Jodeit and active students, support the project from the medical engineering point of view, covering the technical aspects of the project like the design of the toothbrush and the manufacturing in Madagascar.

Several online meetings have been held during the time of the Corona pandemic in order to launch the project, decide on the nature of cooperation and agree on a framework. In June 2020, the first personal meeting between the members of the three participating associations took place at the chair of Medical Materials and Implants (MMI) of the Technical University of Munich. A picture of the participants of this kick-off meeting for the Madagascar Toothbrush Project can be seen above.

For MTOWS, the next steps of this project will be the procurement of raw materials and the design of a toothbrush prototype to verify its general function. For the later production of the toothbrush in Madagascar, the feasibility of production in an environment with reduced access to tools and electricity has to be taken into account. Furthermore, a business case for local production must be developed. Questions like “Who actually manufactures the toothbrushes?”, “Where do we get the machines from?”, “Will the workers work on a self-employed or dependent base?”, “Is the production limited time- or location-wise?”, etc. have to be answered.

Four students from MTOWS e.V. have committed to work on this project jointly. The necessary steps and operational framework were identified in online team meetings and then split into four major work packages which were allotted as follows:

  • Nils Kraschienski takes care of the procurement of the fiber material (bristles) used for brush production.
  • Dario Arcuti takes care of the procurement of the bamboo raw material used for toothbrush corpus production.
  • Martin Bachl is in charge of the prototype design and verification of production feasibility.

Batturay Yalvaç oversees the elaboration of a business plan with detailed responsibilities and business cases in Madagascar.

The project is scheduled for a rough duration of two years. If the Corona situation allows, it is the aim to travel to Madagascar in Q2 2021 in order to implement the production on-site and overcome potential problems with beginning manufacturing. Let us hope we can reach our goal in time and make this work together!

Author: Nils Kraschienski

COPE: COVID-19 Prevention – face masks for Ethiopians

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THE PROJECT

The current COVID-19 pandemic is causing worldwide challenges and exceptional circumstances. Since there is no vaccine or effective medicine available yet the only possibility to prevent a rapid spread among the population are personal hygienic measures such as keeping distance and following hygienic rules. Particularly in everyday encounters face masks have proven to be an effective precaution.

With our project we provide 500,000 face masks for the citizens of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We hope that especially the poorest members of society can benefit from this project. Often they have no possibility of staying at home and cannot keep distance in cramped living areas.

Hopefully we will have a positive impact on the COVID-19 prevention in Ethiopia and will help to provide the chance of protecting everybody’s social environment.

We are honored to work with our Partner University Tegbare-id Polytechnic College in Addis Ababa on this project. They support us with the logistics and distribution in the community in Addis Ababa.

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SUPPORT

We are very grateful that the company Melitta Group was so kind to provide 500,000 of their face mask sets. We’d like to thank Melitta for their effort and support to make this project happen!

Furthermore, we’d like to thank Dr. Frank Drewnick from the Max Planck Institute Mainz who supports us on the scientific side, especially regarding the testing of the filter material of the facial masks. With his team he conducts tests of microbial cleanliness, bacterial filtration efficiency and differential pressure. A big thank you to Dr. Drewnick and his team!

OUR TEAM

Our project team consists of six students and scientists from MedTech One World Students e.V., an expert in global health and psychiatrist Dr. med. Krahl, a physicist from Max Planck Institute Dr. Drewnick and as mentioned our Ethiopian Partners from Tegbare-id Polytechnic College Ato Teshome and colleagues.

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Abel and his Bamboo Wheelchairs

Last May, Abel  Hailegiorgis – the founder of Bamboo Things – came to Munich from Ethiopia to visit and work in a Bamboo Bicycle Club workshop. MTOWS supported him with networking and his daily life in Germany and he presented us his main project: the production of affordable bamboo wheelchairs.

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MTOWs with Abel and his prototype of the bamboo wheelchair

As it is mentioned in the website of the company, its main aim is to bring accessibility to Ethiopia. In fact, bamboo wheelchairs are cheaper than any other wheelchair in this country. As well, they contribute to reduce the carbon footprint and to create local jobs.

In the following video you can meet Abel and learn more about bamboo wheelchairs.

 

We wish Abel all the best with this amazing project and we look forward to seeing him again soon.

Optimized Life Cycle of Medical Devices

Our last but not least project of the Global Health Challenge is about optimizing the life cycle of medical devices.

What is the problem and who is suffering because of it?

In this project we look more closely at the problem that many, otherwise functional, donated medical devices can not be used due to missing parts, missing calibration or even the lack of trained personnel who can operate them. In addition, the approval process of medical devices is largely unknown. For these reasons, patients often can not receive the appropriate treatment and devices are not used to the full potential.

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A faulty sensor producing unreliable temperature readings
Picture taken by Simon Y. Kassahun at the Alert Hospital in Addis Ababa (April 2019)

Specifically in Ethiopia, more than a third of medical equipment is not functional and most of it is overused and dependent on donations. As well, power interruptions, untrained staff and lack of maintenance and guidelines make the use of medical devices even more difficult.

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The function status of devices in three hospital in Southwest Ethiopia
Source: Availability and utilization of medical devices in Jimma zone hospitals, Southwest Ethiopia: a case study By Beyene Wondafrash Ademe, Bosena Tebeje and Ashagre MollaPublished in the BMC Health Services Research (2016)

 

The solution:

This team’s solution is based on the evaluation of the important steps of medical devices and the creation of a set of guidelines to make them successful and long-lasting.

To reach this objective, it is essential to consider the Four Principles of Good Donation Practice:

  1. Ensure maximum benefit to the recipient
  2. Respect for the wishes and context of the recipient
  3. Avoidance of quality double standards
  4. Effective donor-recipient communication and planning

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Spare wheelchairs, spare parts and repair equipment at Addis Guzo
Picture taken by Simon Y. Kassahun at Addis Guzo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (April 2019)

The team

  • Bianca T. Blumenschein
  • Fabienne Greier
  • Simon Kassahun
  • Anna Klaas
  • Baturay Yalvac

 

 

 

 

M3dical open library

In this post we’re introducing you to the team m3dical open library, which is a project that was developed during our Global Health Challenge.

 

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What is the problem and who is suffering because of it?

  • Many rural areas have a lack of supply chain for surgical tools or simple clamps and tweezers e.g
  • efficient supply distribution and simple medicine are still lacking in developing countries
  • everybody who needs simple medical treatment

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The solution:

  • We want to give people the possibility to 3D print their own medical device without knowing how to use CAD-software (software to design the printable parts)
  • We build a website that lets you type in dimension of your medical device and output a ready-to-print STL file
  • the advantage to our solution is that its not only a library with saved parts, but you can manipulate size and dimensions in an easy way

 

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Infrastructure of 3D printing labs in Africa

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working principle of the website

Workflow conventional compared to m3dical open library

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Screenshots of Website:

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3D printed finger splint

Bildschirmfoto 2019-08-07 um 11.14.54You can access the website here:

http://m3dicallibrary.pythonanywhere.com/general/

 

Team:

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First Aid Scooter Tech

In today’s post we bring you another project developed for our first edition of the Global Health Challenge: FAST, the First Aid Scooter Tech.

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FAST Logo

What is the problem and who is suffering because of it?

This development is a solution for a problem in many cities, in which due to the overcrowded traffic and bad infrastructures, the ambulances are sometimes not able to reach medical emergencies on time.

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Stuck ambulance in a traffic jam

FAST (First Aid Scooter Tech) has been created to provide adequate first-aid to anyone who needs time-sensitive medical treatment, in order to increase the survival rates after accidents or emergencies.

The solution:

The idea is to adapt the rear box of the scooters and convert it in a first-aid medical box, as you can see in the picture below. The content of the boxes includes these three main medical fields: diagnostics, consumption and ventilation/suction.

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Furthermore, some special features of the boxes are:

  • A cover as a blanket, which can also assure a more hygienic treatment.
  • Functional module bags
  • Practical box design
  • Phone maintenance App, with a checklist that is updated after each use

FAST is thought to be used in addition to existing ambulances. The improvement is that it would allow a doctor or a nurse to reach the emergency location in the first place and start with the manoeuvres of the first aid as soon as possible.

The team

  • Mira Mahavadi
  • Thao Mai
  • Melanie Niebuhr
  • Helga Ritzl
  • Ottavia Rossini

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Final Pitch Day of the Global Health Challenge

Our first Global Health Challenge is over! We had our final pitch day in the beginning of  July, after 2 months of hard work. Four teams came up with some amazing prototypes and presented their ideas in front of a jury consisting of Dr. Eblenkamp (head of MedTech chair at TUM), Marie Piraud (R&D at Konica Minolta) and Dr. Florian Becke (head of MedTech Bootcamp at Unternehmertum).

Congratulations to the team Automated Infusion Control on winning the challenge.

In this post we want to present you the winning team and their innovative idea to help improving Global Health. For each idea we first introduce the problem the team wants to tackle, who is suffering from the problem and finally present their solution.


Winning team: Automated Infusion Control

What is the problem:

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  • In many developing countries infusion pumps for accurate medication is not available
  • Nurses in those countries therefore use infusion sets and have to count the drops of medication given to the patient
  • this process is inaccurate and time-consuming, as a specialist has to adjust the drop rate per patient, several times per hour

Who is suffering because of it:

  • The patients and the nursing staff, because they have to spend al lot of time and concentration counting the drops, where mistakes can be easily made

And this is their solution:

counting drops from infusion bag automatically

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cheap, easy setup, scalable 

This is the technical setup, which will be released with the Arduino code as an open-source project soon.

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