Playing to save lives- Of the approximately 50 million people who die in the world every year, 10% are killed by the so-called “Big Three” highly infectious diseases: Malaria, HIV, and Tuberculosis. At the same time, one billion people live their lives with no infrastructure, no roads, no electricity. Adding a lack of doctors, nurses, hospitals, labs, and general medical equipment to the mix, the situation for a lot of people is very fragile, because a simple diagnose – let alone any form of treatment – is hard to come by, if not impossible. For diagnosing the Big Three, centrifuges are needed as they can help isolate and detect low levels of infection, pathogens and parasites in blood, urine and stool samples. But due to their high cost (as much as US$1,000 per machine), they are often not available where they are needed most. Most importantly, however, centrifuges rely on electricity and cannot be used in the field. The Paperfuge was inspired by a five thousand year old toy, a spinning button on a string (a whirligig), and fits beautifully into designer Manu Prakash’s philosophy of ‘frugal design’. Working like a button on a string, and made of simple household items like paper, string, and plastic, the Paperfuge is a hand-powered centrifuge that spins blood samples in at 125,000 rpm. That’s enough speed and power to separate plasma from a blood sample (a standard diagnostic procedure) in just 90 seconds. The Paperfuge weighs about 2 grams and costs only 25 cents to make, making it not only much lighter and much faster than its expensive competitors, but also much more versatile in terms of portability and accessibility for patients in hard to reach areas. With his lateral thinking, Prakash advocates affordability and context-specific solutions to the world’s big health challenges, and with the playful nature of Paperfuge (hence the Play&Learning category) he has also managed to address a training- and educational aspect in medical care. Paperfuge is emblematic of a very important movement: Frugal design. It takes principals that are common knowledge and leap-frogs it across contexts. Its low-cost, and a low-barrier to understanding what design can do, and how millions of people worldwide can be lifted out of undesired situations and into more desired ones. Paperfuge empowers local healthcare forces to work better, smarter, faster, and - most importantly - cheaper. It is a poster child for de-specializing, democratic design and ought to have a frictionless adoption.
Category: INDEX: AWARD 2017 WINNER PLAY & LEARNING CATEGORY