Article Written By:
Project Management, Mechanical Engineer
Glia celebrates Heart Health Month this February by showcasing our efforts towards equal care in cardiovascular health. Glia’s projects have a wide range: providing stethoscopes to under-resourced medical practitioners, developing low-cost, open-source cardiovascular diagnostic tools, and collaborating with APIL — a micro-manufacturing organization creating exciting advances in cardiology patient care.
Glia’s ongoing Steth-of-Hope Campaign will highlight the 2024 Heart Health Month. Steth-of-Hope is a fundraising effort to provide Glia Stethoscopes to medical students attending Uganda’s Makerere University. Becoming and serving as a doctor is often symbolized by owning a stethoscope, due to its essential presence in everyday healthcare. However, in many low and middle-income regions, many medical students cannot afford them – as described by Dr. Nathan Mugenyi, a Global Health Researcher in Uganda:
Out of the hundreds of stethoscope brands that could be distributed in this campaign the open-source Glia Stethoscope is the best candidate for multiple reasons. It has been validated in a peer-reviewed study which revealed uniformity in performance as compared to the Littmann Cardiology III (the current standard of care). While meeting these high performance standards, the 3D printed Glia stethoscope is available for only $40 retail, while the Littmann retails for $310. Every $40 donation sends a Glia Stethoscope to Uganda. This equates to arming 8 students with Glia Stethoscopes using the same donated funds that would only arm a single student if Littmann stethoscopes were used. With over 600 students needing a stethoscope, the difference in required funding is significant. Furthermore, unlike traditional stethoscopes (as outlined in "The Glia Stethoscope - Equal To or Better Than"), the Glia stethoscope offers many unique advantages due to its 3D-printed plastic components; it is lightweight yet durable, easy to repair, and safe to use in MRI rooms.
This campaign capitalizes on our previously successful campaign where Glia, in partnership with Make A Medic, provided stethoscopes to 4th-year medical students — 100 each at the Egerton University in Kenya and the University of Zambia Medical School. This project was a definitive success with a lasting impact based on the testimonies of students and staff. Glia plans to sustain this momentum into 2024!
“We are so grateful for the stethoscope donations... between 40 and 50% of students cannot afford a stethoscope, so these are vital to enable them to develop their clinical skills and grow as clinicians.”
~ Dr. S. Mutemwas, Assistant Dean for Undergraduates
“I want to say thank you for the stethoscope. I’ve gotten it from Ms. Bihani. She has written to me: ‘Good luck with the rest of your medical school journey. I hope this stethoscope helps you along the way!’ I want to assure you that it has come in handy and that it will help me a lot in my career and also in my studies. I am really grateful for this kind act and I believe that in the future they will continue the same. God bless you!” ~ Joshua Njenga, Egerton Medical School, Kenya
In addition to the Steth-of-Hope Campaign, Glia continues to support heart health through its electrocardiogram (ECG) project, which improves access to high quality ECG machines.. These devices are used to monitor the electrical activity of the heart and non-invasively evaluate many critical health concerns (such as correct pacemaker function). The Glia ECG is an open-source, low-cost, and high-quality alternative to standard ECG devices — which are prohibitively costly for many low-resource settings. The design is currently awaiting approval to begin clinical trials, which will validate its performance as comparable to the current standard of care.
Lastly, Glia has partnered with the Advanced Perioperative Imaging Lab (APIL) to promote their efforts to improve patient care and education. APIL specializes in the design and production of open-source medical devices, educational models, and procedural training phantoms using 3D printing, laser-cutting, and other micro-manufacturing methods. For example, APIL has the ability to 3D print heart models based on a patient’s diagnostic scan results, which serves as an invaluable asset for preoperative planning. The life-saving potential for such work is undeniable. In one case, a team of top Canadian cardiac surgeons used an APIL model featuring a 4 kg tumor deeply entwined with a patient’s heart muscle to safely plan a surgery and determine where specific incisions could be made. Glia is aligned with APIL’s open-source philosophy and innovative means of improving patient outcomes using micro-manufacturing. We are excited to feature APIL on our website and partner platforms to advocate for and popularize their work.
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