A Sustainable Engineering Solution for Pediatric Dehydration in Low-Resource Clinical Environments

  • Ashley R Taylor
  • Jeffrey Turovskiy
  • Benjamin Drew
  • Andre Muelenaer
  • Kerry Redican
  • Kevin Kochersberger
  • Lissett Bickford Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Keywords: engineering for low resource environments, global health, pediatric dehydration, intravenous fluid volume regulation, community-based solutions


Engineering efforts in low resource environments pose a unique set of challenges, requiring an in-depth understanding of local needs, comprehensive mapping of community resources, and extensive collaboration with local expertise. The importance of these principles is demonstrated in this paper by detailing the novel design and field demonstration of an affordable, locally manufactured intravenous fluid regulation device. Collaboration with clinical personnel in Uganda and Malawi guided device design. In-country physicians emphasised the need to regulate volume of intravenous (IV) fluid delivered to a paediatric patient without use of electricity. The proposed device regulates IV fluid delivery within ±20 mL of total prescribed dosage, providing a method of reducing fatalities caused by over-hydration in low resource environments; the feasibility of building the device from local resources was demonstrated by a field research team in Malawi. The device was successfully constructed entirely from local resources for a total cost of $46.21 (USD). Additionally, the device was demonstrated in rural clinics where 89 % of surveyed clinical staff reported that they would use the device to regulate IV fluid delivery. This paper emphasises the importance of collaborating with communities for community-based engineering solutions. Mapping community assets and collaborating with local expertise are crucial to success of engineering efforts. Long-term, community-based efforts are likely to sustainably improve health outcomes and strengthen economies of communities worldwide.

Author Biography

Lissett Bickford, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Assistant Professor

Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics


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