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This summer’s DukeEngage Uganda cohort brought together eight Duke engineers and eight Ugandan engineers from Makerere University with the goal of lowering barriers to healthcare delivery. The approach was to use locally available resources to prototype low-cost medical devices that could be built locally and scaled. After conducting needs-finding interviews in local hospitals, each of the four student teams narrowed on an idea and built prototypes for their devices.

Team Orion tackled neonatal jaundice by creating a phototherapy machine. Existing phototherapy devices are sometimes limited, requiring several patients to share the device, and often lack adjustable light settings and monitoring which may harm babies. The team developed a lower-cost, adjustable phototherapy machine for $80 USD.

Design specifications for a phototherapy device for neonatal care

Team Blue Cranes created a device to monitor the temperatures of up to three babies in an incubator. Under-resourced hospitals may not always have enough incubators, requiring sharing, and inhibiting doctors’ ability to monitor the health signs of newborns. The students built a device to monitor the vitals of up to three babies simultaneously.

Design specifications of a thermonitor for patients in the NICU

Team Brep aimed to provide more efficient care with their emergency trolley. Local hospitals were found to have a shortage of emergency trolleys, which often remained stationary due to space constraints. The student team developed a mobile trolley that could more efficiently store necessary equipment to enable more timely care for patients in critical condition.

Design specifications of an emergency trolley for hospitals to deliver efficient emergency care

And finally, Team Awesome created an IV bag warmer to decrease the risk of hypothermia in surgery. IV bags kept at room temperature may expedite hypothermia among patients undergoing surgery. The students developed a heating pod to monitor and adjust the temperature of IV bags to prevent maternal hypothermia.

Design specifications of an IV warming chamber to prevent maternal hypothermia

After eight weeks of designing and prototyping in the Makerere makerspace, the student teams presented their devices to Duke and Makerere faculty. The IV warming bag design will be presented by team members at the National Safe Motherhood Conference in Uganda this October.

When the students were not working in the makerspace, they were exploring Kampala, cooking together, dancing, relaxing and building friendships and memories through cross-cultural exchange that will last beyond the summer.