SOLIDWORKS-Designed Technology Comes to the Rescue of Children in Developing Nations

In many rural or impoverished pockets of the world, doctors are scarce and healthcare facilities are few and far between, leaving large populations of people without the medical resources available to the developed world. Faced with severe resource limitations, medical professionals in these areas struggle to provide adequate healthcare services for their populations, often leaving their youngest at the most risk.

A lack of electricity, refrigeration and clean drinking water make disease prevention and the delivery of medical resources difficult at best. As a result, these developing nations are often the hardest hit by epidemics, such as last year’s outbreak of the Ebola virus, which was the largest in history and killed over 11,000 people.

Sadly, preventing future outbreaks and providing adequate preventative care to these populations remains a struggle. To combat these ongoing challenges, healthcare workers in these developing nations are arming themselves with the latest in healthcare technology.

Mobility is often critical to providing healthcare in these areas. Telemedicine, the use of information and communications technology to deliver healthcare, has made gains in expanding healthcare access worldwide. It enables effective medical care despite understaffed clinics and undertrained practitioners and cuts down on a number of the costs, including travel expenses and patient transfers. Unfortunately, reliable Internet connections required by many of these tools are often not available.

Cost and portability are other issues involved in delivering medical services to these regions. Several diagnostic tools and medical devices have been re-designed to be portable, disposable or lower-cost to facilitate their use by healthcare workers to do everything from determining the health of a developing fetus to diagnosing deadly viruses, such as Ebola.

New device keeps newborns healthy

Every year more than 6 million children die before the age of five from jaundice, an easily treatable illness. Nearly 10 percent of all newborns worldwide require treatment to prevent death or long-term disability, which involves the use of phototherapy, shining a blue light on babies’ skin.

To combat these sad statistics, Designs that Matters, a non-profit design company, used SOLIDWORKS software to design the Firefly Infant Phototherapy device, which has been used to treat newborn jaundice in rural clinics. These devices have already treated over 6,000 newborns, and this year, the company expects to distribute at least 1,000 Firefly devices, reaching over 500,000 newborns.

Learn more about the Firefly device by watching this Born to Design video.

Using new technology to combat pneumonia

Another illness jeopardizing the health of young children in developing nations is pneumonia, which remains the leading disease killing children under five years old worldwide. Each year, pneumonia kills more children than AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined.


To tackle this disease, Designs that Matters used SOLIDWORKS to design the Pelican Pulse Oximeter to identify newborns with pneumonia. According to the company’s Product Development team, the ability to rapidly visualize new designs at the earliest stages of the design process was critical to their success. “Thanks to SOLIDWORKS, our designers have moved their sketching process from paper and pencil into the digital world, enabling us to quickly visualize organic forms while still keeping them realistic.”

Pulse oximeters provide a non-invasive way to measure blood oxygen saturation to identify the most severe cases of respiratory distress. A red LED light and an infrared LED light shine through a part of the body such as the finger, palm, or foot to a detector on the other side. The pulse oximeter will enable community health workers, nurses, and doctors to identify newborns with pneumonia, enabling them to get respiratory treatment and antibiotics.

Read more about Designs that Matters and how they use SOLIDWORKS to rapidly develop life-saving medical devices here.

Student uses SOLIDWORKS to design inflatable incubator

James Roberts, a student at England’s Loughborough University and the 2014 recipient of the James Dyson International Award, employed his significant engineering talent to come to the aid of newborns in developing nations and refugee camps. Roberts used SOLIDWORKS to design MOM, an inexpensive, electronically controlled, inflatable incubator with the goal of reducing the number of premature infant deaths.


Traditional incubators are not the optimal solution for refugee camps and developing countries because of their high cost and high maintenance requirements. “Normal incubators need servicing about every three months,” Roberts said. “MOM was designed for a five-year life span with easy to order, plug and play parts.” When MOM does need maintenance, it was designed for the layperson to assemble and configure with easy-to-understand visual instructions.

Another issue was shipping. It’s not easy to send a large incubator to a refugee camp. In comparison, 40 MOM incubators can fit in the space it requires to ship one traditional incubator. In the event MOM replacement parts are needed to be shipped, these items, like inflatable plastic are easily sourced and readily available.

Read more on how Roberts used SOLIDWORKS to overcome the challenges needed to bring to market this inflatable incubator poised to save countless lives in areas of the world in desperate need of medical breakthroughs. An extensive look at the design of this exciting medical breakthrough can be found here.

Non-profit uses SOLIDWORKS to design portable Ebola test kits

The 2014 Ebola epidemic was the largest in history, and the Center of Disease Control and its partners worldwide are working to prevent future outbreaks, but these efforts are easier said than done. A technological diagnosticsbreakthrough imagined by medical non-profit Diagnostics for All is bringing hope that prevention in these developing nations is possible.

In order to successfully treat patients with Ebola, the virus must be diagnosed very quickly. Recognizing the need for a diagnostic tool that would work in developing countries that lack electricity, clear water and refrigeration, the designers at Diagnostics for All used SOLIDWORKS to develop an easy-to-use, portable, and cost-effective solution.

The company saw SOLIDWORKS as the ideal solution to enable its designers to create all of the product’s electronics and packaging, combine them with chemistries needed for the test kit and packing them in a small, portable product. The company’s disposable rapid diagnostic test enables healthcare workers to test for Ebola in the harshest of conditions, saving untold number of lives in the process.

Watch this Born to Design video is learn more about the design of this exciting medical breakthrough that hopes to prevent future outbreaks of Ebola and save countless lives.

To learn more about medical device design and overcoming regulatory and time constraints, check out our life sciences page to read white papers, hear from customers and learn how you can bring your next medical breakthrough to market in record time.

Barb Schmitz

Barb Schmitz

Senior Marketing Communications Manager at SolidWorks
Barb Schmitz is a Senior Manager in Marketing Communications with BA in Journalism and over 30 years of experience in the CAD software industry. She started her career as a journalist covering technology and served as an editor for several leading industry publications for over 20 years. Besides being a sleuth of tech, she is a loyal dog owner, travel bum, mom, lover of hoppy IPAs, red wine, and alternative music lover living in the great city of Chicago.