Health, they say, is wealth and a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Despite this truism, so many people the world over, especially in developing countries, do not have access to adequate health care and where they do, the cost is out of the reach of many. To solve the problem of reaching the unreached and making health care affordable, a US-based Nigerian physician, Dr. Steve Ayanruoh, invented a machine he calls Hospital-in-a-box.
In this chat with Vanguard Learning, Ayanruoh speaks on his background and invention, saying that his mission is to ‘ensure that every citizen of the world has access to comprehensive healthcare irrespective of colour, race, religious belief, sexual orientation and economic status.’ Excerpts:
Dr. Steve Ayanruoh is a pediatrician based in New York, USA. Born in Okitipupa in Ondo State, the Delta State indigene graduated from the University of Ibadan College of Medicine, Oyo State, Nigeria.
“As a pediatrician in the US, I went to work one winter morning, only to find out that I was the only one in the clinic to attend to about three patients at the same time. So, I said to myself, ‘If only I could do something that will aid their treatment.’ This was my motivation. People’s lack of access to adequate health care service is my driving force,” the Chief Executive Officer at Ruskat Medical Equipment Corporation said.
Realizing that dream:
Dr. Ayanruoh said it took him about eight years to complete the project.
“I met major computer firms but they turned me down. It was not until I found one that agreed to buy into my dream of the equipment. I was asked to deposit $10,000. From there, I knew it would become a reality.”
As with everything else in life, the journey was not a smooth one but he was determined to make the dream come true.
Said he; “At some point, I had to depend on my extended family back home in Nigeria, for finance to fulfill this dream of making an equipment that can bring good health to people’s homes.”
How it works:
As the name implies, it is indeed a hospital in a box. According to Ayanruoh, the components include the following; spirometer, electrocardiogram, nebulizer, pulse-oximetry, otoscope, thermometer, cuff, wireless, AC/DC battery.
“On the desktop are icons for all the examinations that the machine can perform. When each examination is performed, the results are stored in each individualized folder, which is also on the desktop. These results can either be stored in a flash drive or sent through the internet to assigned server. Doctors assigned to the locations where the machine is being used can log into the server to review the results and send their recommendations to the site provider.
For example, if there is a trained provider using the machine in Lagos, he could send his results to a server in Kano or Maiduguri and the assigned doctor. The assigned doctor who is vacationing in Enugu can log into the server to review the result and send recommendations back to Lagos. The device can also be used in disasters such as hurricane, tsunamis, floods, etc.”
Explaining the function of each of the components, Ayanruoh said; “The electrocardiogram is used to examine how well the heart is doing. The equipment also helps to diagnose fast or slow heart rate, diseases of the heart and its sac. It can diagnose enlarged heart, heart attack, heart failure and fluid in the sac covering the heart. No special EKG is needed, which means it can save about $5,000 worth of EKG paper yearly.
“The spirometer can be used to examine how well people’s lungs are functioning. The lung can have diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive disease, bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup, pneumonia, hard lung tissue among others.
“The nebulizer is used to measure blood pressure. It can also be used to diagnose high blood pressure (HBP), low blood pressure, systolic hypertension, and dizziness due to changing blood pressure with changes in the patient’s position.
“The pulse-oximeter measures oxygen level in the blood and heart rate. It can help to differentiate lung disease such as asthma. Also, it helps to diagnose cardiac disease such as Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) and endocrine disease such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). Not every panting patient has a lung disease just as not all bluish patients need oxygen.
“The thermometer can be used to measure the temperature of the forehead in seconds. It can be used to diagnose fever, low temperature and febrile seizures. The hand-held device can examine any part of the body such as ears, eyes, nose, and mouth, among others.”
“Everybody can use it. They only need to receive the training.”
On the cost of the equipment, he said “it can be purchased with a moderate $40,000 USD investment. We are looking for serious investors so that we may begin mass production of Hospital-In-a-Box (TM) and make it more accessible to all individuals,” Ayanruoh said.