Out of the 250 million people infected with Schistosomiasis worldwide, 90% live in Africa. Early treatment is key to reducing deaths and morbidity. Currently, diagnosis through microscopy is the WHO gold standard for diagnosing Schistosomiasis haematobium in the urine. However, this method is cumbersome, low in sensitivity, error-prone and not field-adaptable in rural Africa. Also, WHO estimates that 70% of medical equipment coming from high-income countries does not work in hospitals in low-income countries due to lack of trained personnel, limitations with infrastructure, and the lack of spare parts or support for equipment.
The Schistoscope 3.0 is a smart, Raspberry Pi operated diagnostics device that uses off-the-shelf components to perform a semi-automated diagnosis and detect the tiny Schistosoma eggs. To perform a reliable diagnosis, multiple pictures of the same sample are needed. A camera with a reverse lens setup is moved in the XYZ direction using stepper motors to capture pictures of urine samples. The device was designed such that it is locally manufacturable in Kenya, which required a co-creative product development process overseas.
In navigating the complexities of the design process, a co-creative and agile design and development methodology was adopted. This paved the way for cross-collaboration between the design team and local makerspaces in Nairobi, Kenya. The collaboration created an opportunity to re-envision, inspire and align the project scope to achieving a Minimum Viable Product that could be tested and validated with the end-users.
Within this project I led the co-creation process, being the contact person between Gearbox (local manufacturer in Kenya) and our design team based in the Netherlands. During many iterations, the designed 3D models were sent for test print and discussed collectively. to identify improvement points
The WHO standard of microscopy makes use of a sample glass slide which is placed on an open flat surface called the sample stage. This is a simple form of sample placement however it creates ambiguity in the uniformity of light and makes it cumbersome for microscopy (especially for non-experts). For the sample lock, inspiration was taken from a razor so that the closing mechaism can also be printed locally.
The casing of the Schistoscope is the capsule of the embodiment design. It embodies all the functionalities that are needed for an accurate diagnosis. In terms of design considerations of the casing, there is a strong emphasis on local manufacturablity and maintenance based on the researched availability of the local supply chain.
The integrated components allow for intuitive access and enables the user to insert the sample holder as well as access input/output ports (IOP) to enter or retrieve diagnostic data. This aspect of the design leads to ease of use and ensures a smooth learning curve with the device.
The Schistoscope 3.0 was designed to be locally manufactured in Sub-Saharan-Africa using 3D printing technologies and off-the-shelf components that are available within the local supply chain. This creates an opportunity for product repairability, maintenance and ultimately stimulating the local economy within the manufacturing sector.