Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) invited me to their conference on Innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO had two desired outcomes for the conference: a list of available and short-term PPE technologies to respond to actual needs and a first version of a target product profile (TTP) of PPE for highly infectious diseases.
The conference opened with an address from Marie-Paule Kieny, the Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation at WHO. She emphasized how WHO must guarantee the quality and performance of products distributed, so off-the-shelf solutions are not good enough. Hence need for innovation in the space to help fight Ebola and infectious disease epidemics.
Equipment and supplies for treatment would be ideal if they could be produced locally, but she recognized that this capability is not possible for most aspects of Ebola treatment.
The conference started shortly after ADG Kieny’s address with a discussion on improvements to the standard precautions like gloves. Current glove offerings fall short in a number of ways. First, they have short cuffs. Suggestions were made to extend the cuff of the glove for enhanced protection. The visiting doctors from West Africa shared their preference for disposable gloves only. Another interesting problem brought up in discussion was shelf-life. When the outbreak first hit, many of the gloves drawn from stockpiles were dried out and would fail on first donning. Existing gloves are also very hot and a desire was expressed for a way of maintaining dexterity while providing some cooling to the user. If possible, needle-stick resistance would be ideal.
Another improvement, suggested by Dr. Yousef Yazdi from Johns Hopkins University Center for Biomedical engineering Innovation and Design (CBID), was to create a single instruction manual for a complete health care worker “kit.” A single translation of this manual would be even better.
Geneva was also a great opportunity to spend time with the doctors who had worked in the Ebola Treatment Units in West Africa and hear first hand, about their needs. Not surprisingly, cooling issues were at the top of their list of “needs.” We are looking forward to continuing our work with USAID, WHO and CDC to bring our Personal Arterial Cooling (PAC) Technology to the front lines of global disaster response and enhance healthcare and first responder safety around the world.
Stay tuned for more on how Qore Performance is making a global impact with our cooling soultions.