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Access to medical care is essential for promoting public health and improving quality of life in developing countries.

But lack of healthcare services in low-income areas is a major challenge that contributes to high morbidity and mortality rates, particularly among vulnerable populations.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of medical equipment in developing countries is donated. Sadly, only 10-30% of these resources are usable because of electricity requirements, environmental conditions, and a shortage of disposable and replacement parts.

Design Outreach is working to address this challenge and other health inequities in developing nations. With the guidance of a Clinical Advisory Panel, our first area of focus is to develop a negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) device and establish a sustainable supply chain and culturally appropriate training.


“Chronic wounds and wound care has been labeled as the unrecognized epidemic,” according to Dr. Terry Treadwell, M.D., a wound and burn care specialist. Injuries cause 8% of all deaths globally, with 90% occurring in low- and middle-income countries. In Africa, injury-related mortality rates are the highest, and people are 220% more likely to die from a treatable wound compared with high-income countries.

Under-resourced healthcare facilities worldwide face a high prevalence of traumatic and chronic wounds, with negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) identified as a critical unmet need. However, donated NPWT equipment often fails in developing countries due to environmental factors and a lack of disposable and replacement parts. Additionally, 1.3 billion people globally lack access to electricity, with over 50,000 healthcare facilities in rural sub-Saharan Africa lacking adequate electricity access. Without electricity, most NPWT devices cannot be used.

Wound care is also a significant financial burden on patients and their families in developing countries. For example, in Nigeria, the cost of a wound dressing alone is equal to 2-11% of the average individual’s annual income.

People in Africa are

220% more likely to die

from a treatable wound

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device

To solve these challenges, Design Outreach Medical is designing an NPWT device that is durable, simple, easy to repair, able to be sterilized, and not reliant on electricity. Providing under-resourced healthcare facilities with an NPWT device that is culturally and contextually appropriate has the potential to drastically improve patient outcomes and save lives across the globe.

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