Epidemics: Field Ready’s Response to Coronavirus and other Outbreaks
Updated: Feb 7
The threat of virus-related illnesses has once again become a stark reality. Measles has recently spread relatively untouched locations and a new strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has been declared a global public health emergency by the WHO. It is anyone’s guess what impact this will eventually have but it has already surpassed the SARS outbreak several years ago.
At the same, Ebola remains a definitive threat, polio has yet to be eradicated, diseases ranging from dengue and malaria to cholera and tuberculosis continue to affect millions of people. And the annual influenza season is in full swing. In the US, the burden of this illness is massive. Since 2010, there are between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually.
Not all these illnesses are entirely preventable but they are definitely spread and made worse by a lack of basic practices that are proven effective such as widespread use of vaccinations. Wearing the right kind of breathing mask and preventive handwashing have a demonstrable impact on preventing disease and shortening epidemics. For more information, see this article.
Field Ready’s work supports the holistic approach to ending these diseases. In addition to being a good partner in the struggle to prevent and contain infections, Field Ready can quickly and inexpensively locally make critical items and train others to do so. Here are several examples:
Field Ready has designed a locally made respirator capable of being used in a variety of settings. When fitted with N95 filters, these offer far superior protection than simple dust masks and cloth barriers often used throughout Asia. These can lessen the burden of demand, allow for customization and fill gaps of regular supply chains that may be disrupted by the epidemics themselves.
Following the recent outbreak of measles in Samoa, Field Ready in partnering with UNICEF to install hands-free handwashing stations in 12 local hospitals. These foot operated designs will be locally made by trades people and will be maintained by health facilities staff. Watch this space for future details about this important project.
Hidden Incentives Soap
First trialed in Iraq, these locally made soap contained toys embedded in soap to encourage children to increase the practice of handwashing. This was a definitive success as demonstrated in research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which showed a four-fold increase in children washing their hands using ‘hidden incentives’ soap. We are actively looking for the best ways to further replicate these results.
Further details about these items are available in Field Ready’s parts catalog, available here.