A solar-powered autoclave? Rest assured that this is not the brainchild of an overzealous environmental-minded engineer—the carbon footprint of all autoclaves currently in use would have to be infinitesimal. Rather, the device, which is not commercially available, is one of seven novel technological innovations submitted to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in response to a call for medical technologies that could improve healthcare options in the developing countries of the world.
From more than 80 submissions, a team of international experts appointed by WHO selected 15 ideas for medical devices, either existing or under development, that are “accessible, appropriate and affordable for use in low- and middle-income countries,” to quote the WHO website.
The devices fall into one of two categories: commercialised or commercialisable products, and products that are in a noncommercialised or noncommercialisable development stage. The solar-powered autoclave was entered in the latter category. Other entries in that category include a lab-on-chip device with the intended purpose of monitoring AIDS in HIV-infected people as well as blood cell alterations indicating malaria and an anaesthesia system that does not require the use of compressed oxygen.
The entire list of selected technologies, and instructions on contacting the applicants in case you are interested in moving some of these projects along the development cycle, can be found on the WHO site.Norbert Sparrow