Innovative Women’s Health

Innovative Women’s Health – A non-hormonal contraceptive capsule that women can take before sex. A rape kit that empowers victims and eases the process of evidence gathering. A redesign of the 150-year-old postpartum vaginal tear device.

These designs are among the finalists announced this week for the 2021 Index Award, and their creators hope to make the future of medicine and sexual health more equitable for all genders.

Innovative Women’s Health

“There is still a lot of shame about female, trans and non-binary bodies that create harmful barriers to health care,” said Lisa Chang, CEO of The Index Project, a Danish award-winning nonprofit. “A culture of silence continues to permeate many important topics, from women’s sexual pleasure to the long-term effects of childbirth, sidelining important conversations and denying people access to supportive and life-saving resources.”

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Telemedicine company Sehat Kahani harnesses the all-female physician network in Pakistan to improve access to healthcare and empower female health professionals. Courtesy: Health Story

Held every two years since 2005, the awards focus more on how design can solve important global problems – past winners include language app Duolingo and 3D-printed Martian habitat Marsha – But one category focuses specifically on custom designs, in which the finalists. And in medicine, winners are often gendered. It addresses relevant issues that have long been neglected or considered taboo.

For example, two years ago, one of the finalists was Raji, an AI-based chatbot that answered questions about menstruation, mental health and sexuality for girls and young women in developing countries. This year two physicians Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram and Dr. Iffat Zafar Agha are known for their Pakistani telemedicine company Sehat Kahani, which uses an all-female network of doctors. According to Index Award, e-clinics provide affordable health care and seek to combat the phenomenon known as “doctor brides”, where many female medical students in the country give up their careers under pressure to prioritize motherhood. Let’s leave

This year’s finalists hope to cause a seismic shift in the world with a single, thoughtfully designed product, in some cases reshaping a long-neglected field of medicine. Take, for example, the Heisenberger speculum, which has been claimed to make it easier for midwives to stitch up septal tears during childbirth – which according to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) accounts for one in 10 deaths in the UK. occurs in 9 out of 10 women – and it’s made of silicone. instead of metal for greater patient comfort. According to its creator, Malen Hegenberger, the current speculum has not been updated for a century and a half.

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“It’s a taboo subject,” Heggenberger told Danish news outlet Avisen in 2018. “Women usually don’t want to be bothered and after the birth they have so many other things to focus on. They put themselves aside and put the baby first. I think that’s why they talk about it more.” doesn’t.”

This silicone speculum expands upon insertion, allowing midwives to use both hands to suture postpartum tears, performing the procedure without an assistant, and simplifying the procedure. credit: Malene Hegenberger / MadebyMakers

Meanwhile, Circle Biomedical is in the early stages of testing a new type of birth control that, if successful, could revolutionize the field since hormonal contraception was first introduced in the 1960s.

CEO Fredrik Pettersen Madsen said in an email: “Women’s health has been underappreciated and neglected for decades. Despite having billions of users, there has been little innovation in the industry.”

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Its product, Oui, is a gel capsule that women can apply one minute before sex, and the company says it lasts for up to five hours. It is non-hormonal, contains water and chitosan biopolymers, and works by thickening the lining of the cervix, preventing sperm from moving through the vaginal canal.

Although Oui has only been tested on animals so far, its creators hope it will offer women flexible, non-hormonal birth control. Credits: Circle Biomedical

Oui is less invasive than implants like Nexplanon and IUDs, which require an office procedure to be inserted and removed; Daily dosage provides more flexibility than a pill; And it reduces the side effects of hormonal birth control, such as an increased risk of blood clots and stroke because of its association with depression.

“Women on birth control need pregnancy prevention, and because it is a priority and in the absence of better alternatives, women have to accept and tolerate the side effects,” said planning chief Mary. Lehne in an email interview.

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Designer Antya Wegman tackles a deeply complex problem that spans health, law enforcement, and legal systems in countries around the world, including the United States: hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits—DNA collection kits—that are critical to identification and prosecution . believe that. perpetrators of sexual assault.

Although sexual assault affects people of all genders, the United Nations estimates that one in three women over the age of 15 have experienced sexual violence worldwide, and two transgender people, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource. more than one of the women. Center (NSVRC).

The process of testing rape kits in the United States has been plagued with problems from start to finish, from lab delays to police debacle. The problems start at the beginning, according to Wegman, who spent a year as a sexual assault advocate at New York Presbyterian Hospital, with confusing package designs and collections that can take hours for trauma survivors.

“It became very clear to me during the process, and I read the instructions myself, how difficult it is to make this kit,” he said in a video call.

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Although sexual assault nurses (SANEs) are trained to assemble rape kits, there is a national shortage of these types of nurses, and many hospitals turn away victims when staff or kits are not available. , According to Wegman, during his volunteer work, he rarely saw a SANE professional on staff; Instead, mostly emergency room doctors and nurses managed the procedure. Wegman said he was less familiar with the kit, which was first designed in the 1970s and includes 16 separate envelopes for storing genital wipes, a pubic hair comb and nail clippers.

Wageman’s redesigned kit provides color-coding and clear instructions for health care providers, as well as an app for sufferers to follow the process and understand each step.

But Wegman wants to make it easier and faster for police and lab technicians to process and test the kits and provide immediate assistance to victims. His company, Margo, is working on other products to completely redesign the system, track how supplies are tested, and most importantly, an app that lets people Gives information about how and where to get them after they leave hospital. He investigated whether he had been abused.

“The plans I have are for the entire system,” Wejman said in an email. “But they’re really taking the whole process of victims out of control and demanding justice and then re-engineering it…”.

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“I’m a big believer that product can change a system in a way that politics sometimes can’t,” he said on the call.

Five winners from a total of 46 finalists will be announced on 30 September. The Index awards winners more than €200,000 ($244,000) and the ability to help the organization advance their work. The pocket-sized ultrasound devices are 50 seconds cheaper than the machines. Hospital (and connect to phone). To accelerate healing during virtual reality rehabilitation. Artificial intelligence beats medical experts in identifying lung tumors These are just some of the innovations that are now changing medicine at a remarkable pace.

No one can predict the future, but we can at least get a glimpse from the dozens of inventions and concepts below. Like the people behind them, they are at the forefront of healthcare. Neither exhaustive nor exclusive, the list is representative of 2020 public health and medical iterations.

Since March, UPS has been running a pilot program called Flight Forward at 150 Yards in Raleigh, NC. A hospital uses an autonomous drone to transport vital medical samples, including blood or tissue, between two branches The fleet-footed runner can cover the distance almost as fast as a speedy drone, but it’s a proof-off -The concept was successful as a program, and the company was approved by the FAA in October to expand to about 20 US hospitals over the next two years. “We expect that UPS Flight Forward will one day be a very important part of our company,” says David Abney, CEO of UPS, which ships urine, blood and tissue samples as well as medical supplies like drugs and blood transfusions. does. UPS isn’t alone in pioneering air shipping. Wing, a division of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has received a similar but more limited FAA permit for the delivery.

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