Diabetes, once considered a disease of the rich, is now known to affect developing countries at a staggering rate. In Africa, approximately 19.8 million adults have diabetes, and projections for 2035 are as high as 41.1 million. The health and economic burdens of this epidemic in countries like Uganda are crippling. Diabetes requires frequent monitoring of blood sugar; however access to glucose monitors and test strips is limited. Also, when combined with injury and other complications, diabetes can often lead to amputations. The cost for a prosthetic limb in Uganda is between $250 and $500, a number that is prohibitive for most in a country where the median income is about $650 per year. The inability to afford monitors and prosthetics results in loss of mobility and significantly diminishes quality of life with many patients succumbing to the disease in the first year.
The objective of this section is to allow students to work in multidisciplinary teams to design, fabricate and build low-cost devices for diabetes management. The prototypes must be very robust and usable in rugged terrains that are typical in Uganda. It should be easily repairable and use locally available material as much as possible. The designs should be simple, precise and well-documented so that hospitals and medical professionals can replicate it locally in a self-taught fashion. Students will learn thefundamentals of engineering design and analysis while using tools from the machine shop, finite element analysis and stress analysis tools, and smart sensors as part of the process.
Students will work with our partners in the Global Diabetes Institute at Albert Einstein Medical Center, the Regional Referral Hospital in Soroti, Uganda as well as experts in local hospitals. The 2016 prototypes as well as the feedback received from our partners in Uganda on the prototypes will be shared with the class as background information. This project has the potential to make a significant, life-altering difference for the people of Soroti and beyond.