Today's frontline workers engaged in the fight against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) must before all think about their own safety before taking care of their patients. This is due to their personal protective equipment (PPE) being inappropriate for the demanding conditions faced in tropical climates in developing countries. Overheating and exhaustion while working, self-contamination during the critical undressing procedure, lack of human and empathic relationship with patients are typical issues faced by healthcare workers in their daily work.
We are medical doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and humanitarian responders engaged in developing a personal protective equipment allowing healthcare workers caring for patients infected by the Ebola virus to perform their work in a safe environments.
To address the safety issues linked to the multitude components of the PPE, especially those protecting the head and face area, we have designed a one-piece suit with a large face shield. This single-piece design greatly simplifies and accelerates dressing and undressing procedures. The latter is particularly crucial, since healthcare workers are exhausted - sometimes dehydrated - when they leave these suits, which makes them more prone to making mistakes if the undressing procedure is complex, thus increasing the risk of self-contamination with infected fluids remaining on the suit.
SmartPPE also features a ventilation system to keep the temperature inside the suit bearable. The air is filtered and brought directly to the face area, which prevents fogging of the face shield.
Finally, our solution is also reusable, contrarily to most items of currently used PPE. This means less hassle for procurement, storage and especially for waste disposal. But it also means a reduced cost in the long run for a better suit. The PPE can be disinfected using locally available infrastructures, i.e. essentially a bucket of chlorinated water, and reused up to 100 times.
The suit we are developing has already undergone several rounds of prototyping, has benefited from the long experience of SF Tech in designing suits for adverse environments and has undergone several reviews by field experts from MSF. It is now ready to enter a final testing phase in specialized laboratories to validate its protective performance in the conditions faced in Ebola treatment centers in DRC, before it can be safely sent to the field.
We need your support to carry out this critical phase before the project can be safely transferred to our industrial partner and the suit can start being used in the field, where it is most needed.
Your contribution today will help us get solid evidence that our suit is tough enough for the very demanding environmental conditions encountered in DRC. More importantly, since our solution is reusable, to cut down waste and costs, the tests we have planned will guarantee frontline workers that even after dozens of use, washing and disinfection cycles their equipment is as safe and performant as new. And because a project like this with multiple partners and institutions requires a strong pilot, we will look for the best possible leader to make this suit field ready.
Traditional crowdfunding campaigns will reward your support with one of the items you will help produce. We do not think that you are interested in having an Ebola PPE for gardening or walking your dog. The perks we are offering reflect our expertise in our fields (like the waterproof laptop protection or the rugged water purifying bottle) as well as the human relationships we want to put at the heart of what our suit enables, by giving you the opportunity to meet us and discover the environment in which this suit is developed.
By carrying out this critical testing phase, we will then be confident to tell healthcare workers that they are safe to wear this suit when attending Ebola patients and that they can enjoy its benefits - more time at the patient's bed, more human relationship with them, focus on their work rather than their safety.
The biggest Ebola outbreak in the history of DRC is still ongoing, despite the availability of vaccines and treatments. One of the reasons for this is the difficulty to engage communities and build trust to convince patients and potentially infected people to attend an Ebola treatment center. This difficulty comes in part from the lack of human relationship between caretakers and patients, because patients can only see healthcare workers' eyes - most of the time through fogged up goggles. Making our suit available in the field will help counter this, thanks to the large face visor, kept clear by the constantly ventilated air.
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