Eighteen people lost their eyesight immediately after cataract surgery under Telangana government’s flagship programme ‘Kanti Velugu’ in Warangal district in 2018, The Times of India had reported. This unfortunate incident was a reminder of India’s basic health structure.
Access to primary healthcare remains a luxury for people, especially for those residing in rural areas. Besides the issue of affordability, medical negligence and botched up surgeries, make it even more distant for a common man.
Concerned by the plight of healthcare in the country, Dinoj Joseph, a Kerala boy from IIT-Bombay, has designed a portable Operation Theatre (OT).
The OT is foldable. Every part of it can be folded and packed into a backpack. This invention is specially designed for medical camps, organ donations, trauma care, disaster-prone and rural parts of the country.
It is to be noted that this portable model is different from a mobile OT set up inside a vehicle, such that the equipment can be assembled at the site and be transported by 2-3 persons.
Speaking to The Better India, Dinoj, who is currently a Project Manager at the institute, says,
I hail from Kodakara, a remote village in Kerala. Growing up, I did have basic healthcare, but it was only when I was working abroad that I realised the quality. In India, population and road connectivity are hurdles to this quality. This was motivation enough for me to develop a portable and affordable model.
The prototype of the portable operating room was showcased at IIT-B’s 5th Annual Symposium and Medical Device Expo. The project is financed by BETiC (Biomedical Engineering and Technology (Incubation) Center), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
The OT comprises an air purifier, a mini air conditioner, a portable sterile enclosure, surgical gowns, a foldable table, hand-wash units and surgical instruments.
While designing it, Dinoj made sure that there was no compromise on health and sanitation. He explains, “The focus of hospitals in our village was to ensure that the operation was successful. Post the operation, the health condition of the patient became secondary.”
The feature of the sterile enclosure is such that inside air can go outside, but outdoor air cannot come inside as the purified air is maintained at positive pressure inside the sterile enclosure. Except for the transparent sterile sheet which can be procured at less than Rs 300, the remaining equipment can be reused.
As for the overall price of the room, the portable OT will be significantly cheaper than a traditional OT, but the equipment cost remains about the same. The 29-year-old adds, “Since most of the operating instruments are imported from outside India, the overall cost increases. I am currently looking for ingenious instruments that can be made in India. I am looking for investors for this.”
The operating room weighs less than 30 kilos and can presently handle open general surgeries as well as C-sections. The room is big enough to accommodate four surgeons.
“In July, the second phase will be implemented where medical experts will study the prototype. Once they give a heads up, it will go through several medical trials and testing. It will take around a year to come out in the market,” explains Dinoj.
According to a report by the World Health Organisation, nearly 400 million people around the world lack access to at least one of seven essential health services, ranging from pregnancy care to clean water.
Meanwhile, 2.4 million Indians die of treatable conditions every year as per a report published in The Lancet. The report further highlights that poor quality of healthcare leads to more deaths than insufficient access to healthcare. 1.6 million Indians died due to the poor quality of care in 2016.
In a gloomy scenario like this, Dinoj’s invention comes as a hope for millions of people around the country.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)