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December 15, 2016

Dutch University invests in tech health projects for people living in poverty

The Dutch TU Delft Global Initiative invests in six long-term research projects to find concrete solutions that directly improve lives of people living in poverty. The projects (among them two health related projects) range from building houses with waste, low cost MRI-systems to smart turbine pumps for sustainable irrigation and a microchip to diagnose tropical fevers. These grants enable Delft engineers to contribute to the world’s Sustainable Development Goals.

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The aim of the Delft Global research projects is to make an impact and improve people’s live. Close collaboration and co-creation with local partners is crucial for achieving this goal. Therefore Delft Global researchers work in close cooperation with local universities, governmental organisations, companies and NGOs in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. The granted research projects focus on four areas of expertise: water, energy, health and built environment. These areas have a long research tradition within TU Delft and are closely related to the Sustainable Development Goals.

There are two health technology projects:

1) A sustainable MRI system to diagnose water on the brain (hydrocephalus)

More than 100,000 infants develop hydrocephalus in sub-Saharan Africa every year. Many of these children are inadequately diagnosed and poorly treated due to lack of diagnostic tools, resulting in severe brain damage and ultimately death. In order to provide a sustainable diagnostic tool, researchers will develop an inexpensive and easy-to-use MRI system that is of sufficient quality to diagnose hydrocephalus and manage its surgical treatment in Uganda. Two approaches will be investigated: one based on a hand-wound electromagnet and the second on an array of permanent magnets. Both ‘low tech’ approaches require the development of advanced imaging algorithms.

TU Delft: dr. Martin van Gijzen, dr. Rob Remis

Partners: Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda), CURE, Children’s Hospital of Uganda, Leiden University Medical Center, Penn State Center for Neural Engineering
Country: Uganda

2) Getting Hot: Microchip multiple screening of tropical fevers like Zika

Aedes mosquitoes are transmitters of viruses that can cause tropical diseases that are often accompanied with high fevers that can turn lethal. When a patient has a fever, it is often difficult to quickly make the right diagnosis of the underlying disease. In addition, multiple diseases can coexist in a given region. In this project, a colour sensor chip will be developed to simultaneously detect three viral tropical diseases: Zika, dengue and chikungunya, in a fast and affordable way. The chip, once integrated into a piece of hardware connected to a portable (or satellite) phone – telemedicine – will allow humanitarian missions to access virtually any region on the globe.

TU Delft: dr. Eduardo Mendes, dr. Luigi Sasso, dr. Pouyan Boukany
Partner: University of Western Cape (South Africa)
Country: South Africa
 

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