Foremost Ghanaian biomedical engineer, Dr Elsie Effah Kaufmann, has said prototypes of workable medical solutions by some of her students are yet to be put to the use for which they were designed.
The lecturer at the University of Ghana and popular quiz mistress of the National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) explained in an interview with Citi FM that her final students spend one year identifying designing solutions the numerous medical problems in Ghana’s hospitals as part of their academic requirements for graduation.
Also, as part of the requirement, the students are expected to build devices or equipment to solve these problems they identify, however, many of these devices are yet to be mass-produced and deployed.
She said the many devices designed and built by her students include one that is used to warm blood before transfusion and another one that massages the uterus of mothers who have just given birth to help their uterus contract to their original state.
Currently, bags of blood are left in the sun to warm – after they are retrieved from refrigerators – before they are transfused to the patients.
“So, when they come back, they have one academic year to work on these projects… I work very closely with them. We sit down, we define the scope of the problem, we identify the problem and make sure we understand the scope of the problem and make sure we don’t already have existing solutions. For example, if there is already a solution to any of the problems that can be acquired, there is no need for a student to spend one year developing another one,” she said in the Citi FM interview.
She said, as an academic, she is mostly interested in making sure the prototypes of the workable medical solutions are built, but not the business side of things.
“The fact that you have a working prototype doesn’t mean that it is ready to be deployed. Usually, you have to find a way of manufacturing the thing at scale in a cost-effective way [but the] process usually does not take place in the university setting. Because the students only need to show proof of concept with the skills they have. And once they have done that there is no requirement for them to continue this project and many of them, as I said, go off [to do their national service, get a job etc].
“I am an academic. I am very much interested in the initial stages…but I am not a business person. So, what happens then is that the next stage, which is to bring in the business people make sure that you have your business plan and set up a company to deploy your solution that has not happened yet,” she added.
source: Ghana Web