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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Ensure maximum benefit to the recipient
Respect for the wishes and context of the recipient
Avoidance of quality double standards
Effective donor-recipient communication and planning
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Max Schlegel and Adrian Holste are two members of MTOWs who have been writing their Master Theses in Ethiopia from November 2018 until April 2019. In this interview they talk about their amazing stay there and they invite other students to live the same experience as them.
How did the project about the low-cost production of prostheses progress? What has been done so far? What has the research revealed?
Adrian: So far, the project focused on the prosthetic ankle joint with regard to local producibility. We concentrated on other prosthetic devices: Max on the knee joint and I on the foot. In our project we locally manufactured injection molds for prototypes. Also, new contacts to industrial partners could be established.
Max: In the end it was quite successful. I managed to produce an artificial knee joint with injection molds I built myself. Although a final test could only be conducted with one patient, the outcome was satisfying for all project partners. The molds stayed at Cheshire Services Ethiopia in Addis Ababa and I hope that they will start their own production in near future.
Did any other projects emerge? We are looking forward to your stories!
A: Together with staff members of Tegbared College and other students from MedTech OneWorld Students we developed an autoclave prototype using reverse engineering. The prototype was produced in cooperation with the local industry and will be tested in the clinical field soon. Furthermore, at the end of our stay, the Institute for Medical and Polymer Engineering of TUM organized the 1st International Networking Day on Medical and Plastics Engineering. We did not only help organizing the event but also attended it and presented our project findings and the student initiative. That was exhausting, interesting, fun and a good experience.
M: Of course, we got in contact with a lot of medical personnel, working in Addis Ababa which gave us big input for upcoming developing projects. Many of these can be supported during the Global Health Challenge. Besides that, we met Abel Hailegiorgis, a small entrepreneur who has been recently in Munich for universal training. We support him during his stay and help him getting around in Munich.
Which interesting experiences have you had that could bear meaning for our group in the future?
A: As I mentioned, we produced an autoclave prototype together with Ethiopian students and a local manufacturer. This is our first development project for OneWorld Students. In the 1st International Networking Day on Medical and Plastics Engineering together with students from our group we visited the ALERT Hospital to get an inside view on medical technology in Ethiopia. At the networking day we got in contact with many persons from the industry which can potentially help in the future.
M: We met many people from different business areas. Therefore, we got to know the specific demand for medical products as well as a broad overview over locally available materials and means of fabrication.
What did you like most during this experience? And what really impressed you?
A: I liked the non-superficial way of getting to know the Ethiopian everyday life. Working at a college, making friends, eating local dishes, going by minibuses to work and walking through the streets gives you a feeling for Ethiopian life. Even though it can be very exhausting sometimes.
The influence of China impressed me the most. They build everything everywhere and lend a lot of money (with interest of course). Most mega projects are contracted with Chinese companies who profit a lot. They keep all the key technologies and are not interested in sharing experiences or investing in educational programs. So, they will get the next contract, too. Just few European and American companies have entered the market.
M: I really enjoyed getting in touch with other people and gaining insight into their live and work. I was really impressed by the daily problems Ethiopians handle with limited resources.
What kind of accommodation did you find in Ethiopia and which were usually your workplaces?
A: After living in a small room without a window at guest house in La Gare (very central and walking distance to the Tegbared College at Mexico), I moved to into a very nice shared house with two other flatmates.
Mostly, we worked at Tegbared College (in the Technology Transfer Center and in the General Manufacturing Workshop). Once a week, we drove to Cheshire Services in Menangesha (at least 1 hour drive). And sometimes we worked from here or there: guesthouse, home, hotel lobby for wifi, visits of factories and rehabilitation centers, …
M: I stayed in guesthouses for the whole time. After some days, I found a guesthouse in from where I could walk to the Tegbareid college, our main workplace. Though being quite pricey (7$ per night) and small (2.5×2.5 m room) I preferred it over other alternatives since I didn’t have to use public transport. Apart from working in the Tegbareid we also often worked in Cheshire’s workshop in Menangesha, a suburb of Addis Ababa. We got there by using Cheshire’s staff shuttle.
Any tips for future MTOWS who go to Ethiopia:
A: Bring a harness and shoes and go climbing at the local climbing crag Amora Gedel. Besides that, we created a document with information which are good to know and don’t hesitate to ask. On my experience everything works out in some way. So, don’t panic and stay relaxed.
M: It’s a great experience and you should definitely work on a project in Addis Ababa if you get the chance. Having said this, it’s also important to adapt to local ways of working. So you shouldn’t be too strict with schedules.
On April 10th, five members of MedTech OneWorld Students (MTOWS) visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to follow up on our existing partnerships and get in touch with potential future partners. They were joined by Adrian and Max, two other members of MTOWS, who had stayed in Ethiopia for l six months to work on their master’s theses. Together they visited local healthcare facilities and non-government organizations focused on medical aid. They reached many motivated people and potential partners for the Global Health Challenge.
The 1st Ethiopian – German Symposium on Medical Plastics Engineering was held on April 16th with great support from our students of MTOWS. It featured speakers from a great variety of firms, governmental and non-governmental institutions involved in medical technology and we are happy about the great participation, highlighted by the numerous discussions and newly formed collaborations.
On the final day, Max Schlegel and Adrian Holste donated their molten-injection parts and foot parts to Cheshire Ethiopia, that can immediately start the production with their existing machines and local supplies.
We are very thankful for the many motivated participants and supporters and are looking forward to very productive, long term partnerships.