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Low-cost health solutions to turn pandemic tide

Wednesday September 1st 2021

Low cost and innovative health technologies could help the developing world combat the threat of COVID, the World Health Organization has reported.

Its compendium of 24 technologies is intended to improve access to innovative health technologies in low- and middle-income countries.

It contains technologies that can have an 'immediate and future impact on COVID-19 preparedness and response, potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life, and/or offer a solution to an unmet medical need'.

Examples include a portable respiratory monitoring system using an extended battery, a solar powered oxygen concentrator for pneumonia, and a form of bleach additive that highlights non-sterilised surfaces.

Some involve the use of smartphones, widely available even in the most remote areas, for example to measure and record blood pressure readings to monitor hypertension.

The need for innovative shortcuts where there is a lack of infrastructure and resources has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around half of these technologies are already commercially available and have been shown effective in pilot programmes, with the remainder at the prototype stage.

Dr Mariangela Simao of the WHO said: “Innovative technologies are accelerating access to health care everywhere, but we must ensure that they are readily available in all health facilities, fairly priced and quality-assured.

“WHO will continue to work with governments, funders and manufacturers to promote sustainable supplies of these tools during and beyond the COVID-19 emergency.”

She added that the WHO has been assessing innovative technologies over the last decade to help address priority health problems in low-resource settings. The technologies have been assessed by international experts looking at compliance with WHO performance specifications, quality and safety, suitability, affordability, and ease of use.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | World Health

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