Designers challenged to help fight ebola 2

Published in Aid & Health by

Although the Ebola-epidemic in Western-Africa gets all the attention in Europe, it looks as if Americans are more determined to actually fight the disease. And the creative community in the US is very much involved in the fight. A design challenge at Columbia University yielded the idea for a disinfectant in foam form.

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiology professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, is one of the world’s leading infectious-disease investigators. The New Yorker reports on a design challenge Lipkin started to develop low-cost technology-driven solutions to Ebola. ‘All students and faculty, past and present, were invited to participate,’ the magazine writes, ‘and could spend up to a hundred and fifty dollars on materials. Each team had to create a prototype in less than two weeks.’

Nine proposals were presented. One group of students came up with an Ebola Containment Suit, which could contain a patient’s bodily fluids while providing adequate ventilation and hydration. An undergraduate student came up with the idea of a coloured bleach spray to make disinfection visible.

Lipkin suggested this idea could be combined with the proposal of a professor of mineral engineering for a bleach foam, that would be more effective than a bleach solution as it smothers what it covers. It could be a game changer, Lipkin thinks. He is currently looking for ways to develop the ideas.

In the meantime the OpenIDEO challenge, on which we reported earlier, has reached the final stage. Out of 606 ideas, 29 proposals were selected that will be developed further in the impact fase. Among these are improvements of the protection gear, mobile and digital monitoring systems, simple toilet systems, and proposals for better distribution of information. The impact phase, in which stories about implementation are shared, will be opened on Tuesday.

All images shown here are from the OpenIDEO challenge.

Use of UV-visible compound to show contamination

Use of UV-visible compound to show contamination

Ebola information on water sachets

Ebola information on water sachets

personal portable toilet

personal portable toilet

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