The GlobalDiagnostiX project
The goal of the GlobalDiagnostiX project is to develop, in partnership with local actors, a digital, ultra-robust, and low-cost medical x-ray equipment adapted to the context of developing countries. The context of countries in the global South is such that the system must be extremely robust, in particular it has to withstand heat, humidity and dusty environnements. Electrical instabilities are causing up to 1/3 of failures of electrical medical systems. GlobalDiagnostiX has thus to withstand power outages and strong fluctuations of the electrical network. Considering the lack of trained professionals in these countries, the system must be easy and safe to operate and require minimum maintenance. A teleradiology service will be established to allow hospitals that do not have radiologists to send X-ray images via the mobile phone network to a specialized center that can quickly issue a remote diagnosis.
Finally and very importantly, the system must be affordable i.e. the total cost of ownership has to be reduced tenfold (including initial purchase, maintenance and repair costs over ten years) compared to existing solutions.
For this it is necessary to innovate, not only in technology but also in attitudes, using collaborative projects that build on realities on the ground and that are economically viable. This is a unique project and, if successful, will blaze the trail for a whole new approach to the design of medical devices.
A multidisciplinary alliance
The GlobalDiagnostiX project has resulted in the establishment of an alliance of more than 35 researchers, engineers, and specialists, from all ﬁelds.
In Switzerland, the alliance involves several EPFL laboratories, ten HES-SO research groups (from the health, engineering and design ﬁelds), the Paul Scherrer Institute, the EssentialMed Foundation, who initiated the project and is responsible for its valorization, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the CHUV (Lausanne University Hospital).
In developing countries, the project partners include the University Hospital of Yaoundé (CHUY) in Cameroon, the University Research Center on Energy for Health Care (CURES) in Cameroon, and local stakeholders in developing countries.