Contracting a disease in a developing country used to be, essentially, a death sentence. Scientists, researchers, and engineers alike are working to change that. Low cost health diagnostic tests have become a focal point for health research for several reasons. One such reason is the desire to lower the cost of diagnostic tests for everyone in every country. Blood panels are routine to test for and monitor health issues, but they are too expensive for everyone who needs help. This is especially a problem in developing countries where most citizens do not have access to adequate healthcare solutions, much less the funds for expensive diagnostic tests. Thankfully, there are several institutions, such as the EFPL, who are making headway in the low cost health diagnostics field.
The EFPL has recently developed a device that can diagnose and monitor health issues, and is small and portable, at a very low cost. It is a microfluidic device that has already been tested on Ebola cases, and is predicted to be able to be used for many other diseases. The little contraption is battery powered and very accurate, using inexpensive microscopes to analyze small blood samples. It concentrates on biomarkers such as enzymes and proteins to accurately inform a patient about the state of his or her health.
One of the more unique features of this microfluidic device is that it has analog and digital detection mechanisms. Most low-cost health diagnostic devices are only composed of one or the other. Having both lessens the amount of time it takes to analyze a single blood sample, and makes the analysis more accurate. This could result in the ability to catch diseases early, and take preventative measures accordingly.
Another wonderful feature of this new device is that blood samples that it tests do not have to be pre-treated. Rather, they can be inserted directly into the device without separation. This cuts down on a large amount of processing time by doctors, and makes it so that more equipment, such as a centrifuge, is not necessary.
In terms of monitoring disease outbreaks in developing countries and taking action, inventions such as this one are invaluable. They are crucial to catching and treating conditions in patients early at a reasonable cost. We are slowly revolutionizing the way health is handled financially, and I look forward to seeing how this particular device develops.