November 30, 2016 |

7 household items we use to save lives

How do batteries and balloons save lives? With ingenuity, hard work, partnerships, and your support.
Closeup of a RELI Delivery System prototype held by two hands.
Closeup of an early prototype of PATH’s reusable, electricity-free, low-cost infusion pump. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

At PATH, we use MacGyver-worthy ingenuity to turn everyday objects into lifesavers for women and children in the world’s poorest places.

We passionately believe that survival shouldn’t depend on where a person lives, how reliable their electrical grid is, or whether they can afford health care. So, we work with partners to boil down sophisticated technologies to their essence, creating easy-to-use, affordable alternatives designed specifically for low-resource settings.

Here’s a peek at some of the ordinary objects PATH uses in extraordinary ways to save lives:

1. Bike pump

A man stands behind a prototype of the RELI Delivery System.
Administering medication or other fluid into the bloodstream through an infusion pump is the only effective treatment for many conditions, including some infections in newborns. PATH’s reusable, electricity-free, low-cost infusion pump (RELI Delivery System) operates pneumatically using an ordinary bike pump; a few minutes of pumping allows the device to deliver lifesaving medications for hours. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

2. Mouthwash

A bottle and a tube of chlorhexidine.
PATH is leading a movement to get a new, very strong formulation of chlorhexidine—an antiseptic found in mouthwashes and surgical washes—to health workers and others who support women during childbirth. Today, more than 15 countries are using chlorhexidine to cleanse babies’ umbilical cords at birth, at a cost of less than US$.50 per dose. Photo: PATH/Dave Simpson.

3. Water bottle

PATH's bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) kit.
A length of inexpensive tubing, a water bottle, a custom-designed oxygen mixer, and a few other components snap together quickly to blow a mixture of oxygen and air into the lungs of preemies and other newborns with fragile lungs. Our simple bubble continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) kit was inspired by devices improvised by ingenious providers in low-resource settings, but it’s safer for babies because it delivers a mixture of oxygen and air instead of pure oxygen, which can cause blindness and brain damage. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.

4. Car battery +

5. Salt 

The MSR SE200™ Community Chlorine Maker.
The MSR SE200™ Community Chlorine Maker, developed by PATH and Mountain Safety Research (MSR), uses a 12-volt vehicle battery to convert a handful of salt and small amount of water into enough chlorine to make up to 55 gallons of water that’s safe to drink. Now we’re working with MSR on a continuous-flow version to use in refugee camps and other large population centers. Photo: PATH.

6. Balloon

PATH and Sinapi biomedical, a South African company, developed an affordable, safe, and easy-to-use UBT.
Severe bleeding after childbirth is the leading cause of maternal death and disability. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in low-resource settings, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa—and most could be prevented with emergency obstetric care. A uterine balloon tamponade (UBT) can stop postpartum bleeding in minutes by using a water-filled balloon to apply pressure to the walls of the uterus. Existing UBTs are often prohibitively expensive for low-resource health facilities, so PATH and Sinapi biomedical, a South African company, developed an affordable, safe, and easy-to-use UBT to help save the lives of these mothers. Photo: PATH/Patrick McKern.

7. Cell phone

Screenshot of a cell phone voucher system.
In 2015 alone, an estimated 2.8 million people in India became sick from tuberculosis. PATH is coordinating a network of private-sector providers in Mumbai’s slums to ensure as many patients as possible get timely diagnosis and treatment. Those who opt in receive digital vouchers via cell phone for free services—like diagnostic testing and medications—plus appointment and medication reminders by phone and text message. They also get in-person support from community-based counselors to help them comply with treatment. Photo: PATH.

Some of these simple, brilliant tools are already on the market and in the field; others are still in our pipeline—along with dozens more. It takes time—and money—to get these lifesaving solutions to the people who need them.

That’s why we need your help. When you make a gift to PATH, you fuel creativity and collaboration that make life healthier for women and children around the world. Your support is crucial–please give to PATH today.

MSR SE200 is a registered trademark of Mountain Safety Research, a Division of Cascade Designs, Inc.

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