Arjun Sikand: Discussing affordable health technologies in Rio de Janeiro

Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend and contribute to a workshop aiming to bring engineers and clinicians together in order to build teams, share knowledge and create affordable health technologies across the globe. This just happened to be in the amazing city of Rio de Janeiro – Sun, sea and sand but it wasn’t all fun and games.

The workshop, supported by Global Challenge Research Fund, looked to address access to essential medicines and health technologies, one of the cornerstones of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Medical devices, assistive devices and eHealth solutions are important components of health technology, which have the potential to save lives and improve quality of life and well-being. However, many people in the “global south” suffer due to lack of access to high quality, affordable health technology. This is a massive issue with significant impact on public health in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs) including Columbia and Brazil.

Lead by Dr Amir Keshmiri from the University of Manchester, and supported by Federal University of Bahia, Brazil & University of Los Andes, Colombia, the three-day technical workshop brought together 20 scientists and engineers from the UK, Colombia and Brazil who have expertise and interest in the development and design of healthcare technologies in a low cost setting. This multidisciplinary workshop was the first of its kind with the attendees from Colombia and Brazil providing insight into the demand, opportunities and challenges in designing low cost health technologies in resource restricted settings.

More workshops are to follow, but this was a great start to building the links and networks to respond to future funding calls in challenge areas… so watch this space.