Inventors: Ben Moore & Professor Alexandre Kabla, Engineering and OVSI
Mentor: Claire Rose, Director of Innovation, RS Components
Across the world, there is a frequent problem of expensive donated medical equipment not being used in the recipient hospitals. There are a range of reasons for this, but in the case of donated ventilators one reason is when the hospital gas supply outlet, either wall-mounted or from cylinders, uses a different national standard to that of the equipment that needs to be connected to the supply. This mismatch, for example trying to use a US-donated ventilator with an Ohmeda connector in a hospital tooled with German DIN wall outlets, makes it impossible to use that piece of equipment.
Currently, very few gas adaptors exist to convert between national standards. Most existing solutions convert between different US standards, and some incorporate a length of flexible hosing with connectors at either end. Even these incomplete solutions do not make their way to hospitals, partly due to prohibitively high costs in the range of $50-100, but also due to a lack of knowledge of their existence.
As part of a time-framed design challenge, a team of students at the University of Cambridge, supported by Professor Alexandre Kabla, spent a month exploring this problem, speaking with stakeholders in multiple countries, writing up documentation and creating shareable resources on the gas connector standards. This resulted in the development of a prototype gas adaptor, which we have named Asmami: the name for an adaptor in Amharic as spoken in Ethiopia.
The initial solution in its current state is very simple – two pre-existing connectors are connected through an intermediary part manufactured locally in an LMIC to create the adaptor.
The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate the scope of this problem so that they can advise the researchers on the best next steps for the prototype device. For example, where does this problem occur most frequently and how widely is it recognised? What is the best manufacturing approach for creating a solution that is affordable in LMICs, and what countries or NGOs would be the best partners to work with to make it a reality?