Category — Healthcare

MIT Grads Provide Biodegradable Sanitary Pads to Rural India

A startup, Saathi (meaning ‘companion’ in Hindi), founded by three graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a graduate from Nirma University in India, is hoping to improve access and waste disposal of sanitary pads for women in rural India.

275,000,000 women in India cannot access pads because they are too expensive (also scarcely available, and difficult to discard). “Only 16 percent of women have access to sanitary pads in India,” Kristin Kagetsu, co-founder and CEO of the company told NBC News during an interview at the company’s production facility, located outside Ahmedabad, in India’s western state of Gujarat.

The sanitary napkins are eco-friendly: they are made from locally-sourced banana fiber, which is highly absorbent and biodegradable; it doesn’t have to be burned when disposed, thus helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Banana Fibers

Fibers from the banana tree

Saathi is one of the finalists in the Health and Wearable Technologies category at SXSW, Austin, Texas. It is looking  funding this project, and according to its website, $12,737 have been raised toward a target of $20,000.

April 19, 2017   No Comments

India Caps Prices on Coronary Stents Triggering Debates

After including drug eluting stents and bare metal stents in the National List of Essential Medicines in July last year, the government of India added them to the Schedule I of the Drug Prices Control Order, 2013, last December, and brought the devices under price control.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has capped a drug eluting stent at $458 and a bare metal stent at $112.  All stent manufacturers as well as importers will now have to price their products below the notified ceiling price.

Since hospitals also function as retailers of stents they will also be required to display the prices prominently in the hospital premises, per the Drug Price Control Order 2013, reports BusinessLine.

Sahajanand Medical Technologies Stent

Sahajanand Medical Technologies Stent

Health groups, such as the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare, expressed satisfaction with the decision. “After months of consultations, we welcome the strong and determined action of the government, particularly in the face of a concerted campaign by industry and profit-oriented hospitals to prevent any form of effective price control,” said Malini Aisola of the All India Drug Action Network.

The Medical Technology Association of India expressed disappointment with the decision saying the “move will reduce the options available for the Indian patient for their specific medical condition or deprive them the satisfaction of choosing from the most advanced and cutting edge technologies.” The Association asked for a 45-day transition time for implementing the price change.

 

April 11, 2017   No Comments

Impact Investor Acumen To Raise India-Dedicated Fund

Headquartered in New York City, global impact investor Acumen is planning to launch an India-dedicated fund, as the investor plans on raising funds from India.

The company was incorporated in 2001 by Jacqueline Novogratz, with seed capital from the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco Systems Foundation and individual philanthropists. Acumen’s work in India spans four sectors—healthcare, education, clean energy and agriculture.

Acumen Logo

Ajit Mahadevan, India director at Acumen said, “Across the four sectors we work in, we will look at these two enabling themes [technology and financing], because on the back of that you can create accelerated impact. All our education companies have a technology element. In agriculture, the focus is on access to markets using technology,”  The impact investor is exploring new avenues such as student and school financing, health insurance and MSME debt financing, reports Livemint.

“Acumen has invested over $100 million globally and the largest country is India. About a third of that has been invested in India, around $32 million, making us the largest non-microfinance investor in our sectors,” added Mahadevan.

April 9, 2017   No Comments

Scientists in India Develop Credit Card-Sized ECG Device

Scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center have developed a credit card-sized Tele-ECG machine that can transmit an ECG over any smartphone to any part of the world. This 12-channel ECG machine works on an Android-platform, can be recharged via a mobile charger, and is priced at $61. It is likely the smallest of its kind.

“The quality of the ECG is excellent and it has come to me in two to three different formats for me to view,” Dr. Hemant Haldavnekar, a consulting physician, said.

 Hand-held ECG Device

“This is a small low-cost ECG machine that on a single charge can record 300 ECGs. It is rightly suited for rural areas,” the developer of the tele-ECG machine, Vineet Sinha, scientist, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai, said reports NDTV.

March 21, 2017   No Comments

India Creates Medical Caesium-137 from Nuclear Waste

India’s scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center in Trombay, near Mumbai in the western state of Maharashtra, recover caesium-137 from radioactive waste to protect babies and vulnerable patients from adverse reactions to blood transfusions.

A rare and usually fatal complication from blood transfusion is Transfusion-Associated Graft Versus Host Disease, which is a major risk for fetuses and very premature newborns, as well as patients with suppressed immune systems, says World Nuclear News.

Doctors normally irradiate donated blood either with x-rays or gamma rays sourced from cobalt-60. However, cobalt-60 has a short half-life of 5.3 years which means technicians have to regularly make, transport and install new sources. Though Caesium-137 offers a longer-lasting alternative with a half-life of 30.2 years, it is usually presented in powdered form as caesium-chloride that has the potential hazard of dispersal if not properly handled and managed.

Making Vitrified Caesium Pencils at BARC

Making Vitrified Caesium-137 Pencils at BARC

Researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Center created a solid form of caesium-137 (from the stream of reprocessed spent fuel from India’s nuclear power plants), with the benefits of long life, reduced handling and no risk of dispersal. The same product will replace cobalt-60 for applications such as food irradiation, brachytherapy and sterilization of medical equipment.

 

March 21, 2017   No Comments