Medical Supplies & 3D Printing

Sustainability problem: 

The perpetual conflicts coupled with the economic downturn has limited the source of medical supplies in Gaza. To bring such equipment through neighboring countries such as Israel and Egypt is another mammoth task. Doctors have to make do with scarce medical resources, while NGO’s such as Medecins Sans Frontieres take on the responsibility to help with medical care (Rushabh, 2017).

Sustainability Technology: Health

To address the issue of medical supply scarcity, the Glia Medical Project was initiated by Dr. Tarek Loubani in 2012. Glia uses 3D printers to create medical equipment. The 3D printable equipment is made from ABS/PLA plastic. It is provided free of cost to the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. Glia strives to make high quality low cost medical equipment’s based on the free open source philosophy. The first device developed was a 3D printed stethoscope (Rushabh, 2017). This equipment that cost $0.30 cents works better than the $200 equipment that is traditionally manufactured (Molitch-Hou, 2014). 3D prints were also used to make components for air ionizers and ozone generators. This medical hardware helps remove airborne bacteria and sterilize surgical instruments. To make these products, a 3D printer was built from spare parts by one of the members of the project. (Rushabh, 2017).

3D printing is said to be a sustainable technological solution to the traditional form of manufacturing given it can be done locally. It cuts out the waste generated from traditional manufacturing as well as the energy and materials consumed in transportation and packaging. Additionally, the material used in 3D printing, thermoplastics, can be reshaped into new objects, which eliminates the need for end of life treatment required for other products (Phansey, 2014).

The medical supplies made from 3D printing by Dr. Loubani and team not only addresses the medical supply shortage in Gaza but also provides an environmental friendly solution to manufacturing medical equipment’s locally.

Key Stakeholders

Stakeholder Role
Local government Permission to set up business/seek licenses
Investors Investment in business
Hospitals Key customer for sale of equipment’s
Healthcare companies Funding partner for R&D

CSR funding partner to provide medical supplies free of cost to NGO/low cost medical facilities

CSR funding partner for vocational training program to teach less privileged youngsters to make medical equipment’s from 3D printing

NGO’s focused on healthcare Community outreach partner
Media PR
Public Champion to raise awareness
Technology/Healthcare educational institutes Partnership for interns/new recruits to work on developing new medical prototypes from 3D printing

Guest lectures to teach 3D printing of medical equipment’s

Waste management audit firm Conduct annual waste audit

Implementation

Phase 1: Business Development

  • Seek permission and licenses from government to set up 3D printing business
  • Once permissions are sought, set up 3D printing medical equipment business
  • Seek investor support
  • Partner with healthcare companies for R&D support
  • Partner with hospitals & NGOs working in healthcare for sale of products
  • Train hospital medical staff and NGO staff on how to use the equipment
  • Raise awareness through media and public campaigns
  • Partner with educational institutes for guest lectures/recruitment of interns
  • Monitor: sale of products, feedback on equipment usage, footfall in hospital post usage of new equipment’s, material usage, material recycled/saved through this model

Phase 2: Community Outreach Efforts

  • CSR partnership with healthcare companies to fund vocational training programs to train less privileged youth in developing 3D medical equipment’s
  • Seek government partnerships for infrastructure support
  • Partner with NGO’s for community outreach efforts
  • Monitor: number of youth trained, number of youth employed in 3D printing business, number of youth enrolled to further study medicine/waste management/engineering

Sources

Haria Rushabh (2017), ‘Self-Assembled 3D Printers Produce Essential Medical Supplies in Gaza, ‘3D Printing Industry, sourced from September  25th, 2017 from https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/self-assembled-3d-printers-produce-essential-medical-supplies-gaza-120900/

Glia (n.d), About us, Glia Equal Care, sourced on September 25, 2017 from https://glia.org

Phansey Asheen (May 2014), ‘How 3D printing can revolutionize sustainable design’, Greenbiz.com sourced on September 25, 2017 from https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/05/29/3d-printing-revolutionize-sustainable-design

Molitch-Hou Michael (August 2014), ‘Doctors Bring Low Cost Medical Supplies to Gaza with 3D Printing’, 3D Printing Industry, sourced on September 25th, 2017 from https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/doctor-brings-medical-supplies-to-gaza-with-3d-printing-55635/

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