Cornell University Chapter Goes to Peru, Part 2

Guest Blog written by EWH Chapter at Cornell University, continued from Part 1.

Team Impact

After sifting through the interviews and notes, EWH has come up with the two most promising design ideas which came out of Peru.

A daily debrief after clinic work

Daily Team Meeting After Clinic Work

1. A dehumidifying crib for infants: Over 40% of infant deaths in Lima are caused by respiratory illness. This is frequently attributed to the extremely humid air in Lima. Asthma rates among children and adults are also very high. Often, children and adults who experience bad respiratory problems are told to move several hours inland -- away from the humidity of the coast. That's not financially realistic for many families, especially with newborns. We plan to create an incubator-style device which will passively dehumidify the air in the newborn's environment for the 10-14 hours a day they are asleep. This should reduce the amount of respiratory illness infants experience, ultimately saving lives.

2. Standard designs for turning bicycle parts into a scoliosis brace: custom scoliosis braces can cost over $3,000. In Lima, scoliosis is prevalent because of obesity. We want to make some standardized plans which will allow a local welder to turn a light-weight bicycle frame, or other tubing, into an appropriate brace to reverse the effects of scoliosis, making work and life possible for those afflicted.

Additionally, we have done a lot of reflecting about how we can get this same experience to more members of our team. We realized that many of the challenges we saw are similar to ones in under-funded hospitals in the US. The Peru trip has inspired us to take a three-pronged approach for the future:

Education Station at the MedLife Clinic

Education Station at the MedLife Clinic

A. Have students shadow at Cayuga Medical. We think that there are still many valuable skills to be gained about problem solving here in Ithaca, NY. We are working on setting up day-long shadows for EWH members to see how a doctor works throughout a day and to see if the student can identify problems which could be fixed through better design.

B. Weekend trips to resource-poor hospitals: To widen our ability to see existing problems, we hope to send small groups of EWH members on weekend-long trip to resource-poor clinics and hospitals in NYC and rural New York. This will give more students an opportunity to see which aspects of the healthcare infrastructure are inefficient and allow them to brainstorm solutions.

C. We do still want to send students abroad. We think there are cross-cultural insights which simply cannot be gained in the US, but are vital to understanding and improving international healthcare. Since this trip was a success, we are very hopeful about partnering with companies to financial support our trips in the future. Additionally, we feel that travel abroad expands mindsets and we hope to inspire our members to choose engineering careers that will directly benefit the least fortunate in society.

Thank you so much for your support,

Cornell Engineering World Health Chapter

One of the few English speaking doctors Analida who helped us

Group picture with Analida, one of the English-speaking doctors

#Maps on the Web: Peirce Quincuncial Projection: