n Uganda, the country Philippa Ngaju Makobore calls home, one of every three children seeking medical care in a health facility is in shock and requires intravenous (IV) therapy. These children must have carefully controlled IV fluids to prevent over- or under-infusions. Unfortunately, in many sub-Saharan African countries, there’s a scarcity of skilled technicians, and patient care is often compromised.
After visiting the children’s acute care ward of a hospital in Kampala, Makobore was determined to not let more children die as a result of improper IV methods, so she started working on a solution. Along with her team of engineers at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, she developed the Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed (ECGF) Infusion Set (prototype version), an automated noninvasive infusion controller designed to safely and accurately regulate lifesaving IV fluids and drugs. The ECGF has been an invaluable asset in resource-constrained settings, including hospitals and treatment spaces lacking reliable electricity. In addition to ensuring accuracy, the product alleviates the clinician work burden associated with the manual delivery of IV fluids.
The scientist credits her schooling and her strong sense of community for inspiring this meaningful work. “Having had the opportunity and exposure of an international education in engineering, I strongly felt that I had to give back to my community and my country through the skills I had acquired,” she said.
It is important to tell stories of science to inspire future innovators and leaders, especially stories of African ingenuity that validate the importance of solving African problems with African solutions.
Her pride in Ugandans and in the work of all African innovators runs deep. According to Makobore, “The ECGF has given confidence to innovators in Uganda as one of the first homegrown innovations designed by Ugandan engineers to be piloted in patients following institutional review board approval. Broad dissemination of its design and development, testing and potential impact has given both public and private stakeholders in Uganda a fresh insight into the potential for medical technology developed within Uganda. It is important to tell stories of science to inspire future innovators and leaders, especially stories of African ingenuity that validate the importance of solving African problems with African solutions.”
About the Africa Storytelling Challenge
The inaugural Champions of Science®—Africa Storytelling Challenge took place between May and August 2018. Open to all scientists doing innovative work in Africa, the contest drew more than 100 submissions. An independent selection committee of scientists, policymakers and science journalists reviewed the applications and selected the winners. Each winner will be awarded $5,000 and will have the opportunity to share their stories at the 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.