The healthcare sector in developing countries lags behind developed countries of the world. Take Sub-Saharan Africa for example, the WHO estimates a deficit of 4.3 million health workers by 2035. The current ratio of doctors to patients in Nigeria is estimated at 1:5100.
Adequate healthcare in hospitals is a critical issue. The health sector is underfunded and there are not enough health workers. The bulk of patients in hospitals in developing countries do not receive adequate and timely care. Health workers are not enough to go round the wards, even if they run shifts.
Patients in emergency wards often require fluid to resuscitate before proper diagnosis. This process is known as Intravenous (IV) fluid or drip infusion. Infusion is the fastest way of resuscitating an admitted patient.
The patients are regularly monitored to ensure that there are no air bubbles in the tube. And the fluid has to be monitored and timely replaced to avoid backflow into the IV tubing. The backflow of blood into the IV tube may lead to blockage, a trigger for thrombus formation (blood clots) when the patient is left uncatered for.
There are 1:300 chances of healthcare-induced injury, leading to thousands of premature deaths every day. A WHO report shows that the probability of being harmed in a hospital in Africa is as much as 1:20 patients. One in five people on drip infusion suffers from complications for excess or insufficient fluids. Enthusiastic efforts have to be made by medical personnel to ensure drips are constantly monitored at all times.
The morbidity and mortality rate as a result of thromboembolism is high, especially in developing countries. In some developed countries, hospitals install devices that regulate the flow of fluid from the IV tubing. TREB LABS has built a similar, simpler and cost-effective device for the hospitals in Africa.
TREP LABS (TREP is an acronym for Test Refine Evaluate and Prototype) was co-founded by Abdulwaheed Abiola Alayande and Taofeek Olalekan in February 2018. Taofeeq and Abdulwaheed are both graduates of the Federal University of Technology, Akure with degrees in Physics & Electronics, and Electrical & Electronics Engineering respectively. They built REALDRIP, a device that covers up for the shortage in the number of health workers in Africa.
REALDRIP makes it possible for a single health worker to monitor all the patients in the hospital. A nurse can monitor all IV fluids and easily document measurements from a single medical device.
The REALDRIP device
REALDRIP is an IoT-enabled device that is installed on the drip chamber of a tubing set. It is controlled from a central administrator that regulates the flow of fluid through the IV tube. REALDRIP prevents the backflow of blood during drip infusion by continuously monitoring flow rates and the administered volume.
The flow rate is displayed on the onboard screen of the devices. The device stops the flow and sends a message when the fluid level hits 5%. Notifications are also sent to a web dashboard and mobile app to alert the health worker on duty. This works irrespective of internet connectivity, whether online or offline.
TREP LABS has participated in several accelerator programmes. They won Akure TechUp Startup Pitch Challenge and Microsoft Imagine Cup Nigeria National Finals during their school days as undergraduates. Last year, they participated in the FbStart Accelerator Program, a 6-month program focused on helping early-stage ventures with seed funding, business support, and mentorship opportunities.
Just recently, they won the Heritage bank Ltd.’s maiden innovation challenge. It was a 12-week programme that provides tech startups with an enabling environment, resources and seed funding required to accelerate solutions. REALDRIP also emerged one of the third runner-ups of the 2019 CISCO Global Problem Solver Challenge.
The journey so far
There has been a lot of challenges as expected with innovation in Africa. Actualizing the product from hardware to software is a milestone in itself. TREP LAB is currently demonstrating and test-running the product with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research and the Federal Medical Centers.
A clip of our interview with the founder of Trep Labs
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