Sterilization Packages

For the benefit of those who are hearing about SPECT for the first time in this newsletter, in April 2013, SPECT was selected to receive a grant from Grand Challenges Canada to promote an “innovate idea” in health care. Our idea was to see if we could use a simple pressure cooker fitted with a specialized basket that could suspend surgical instruments and then be heated using a non-electrical source; all with the objective of providing developing countries with a low cost, simple, and effective method of sterilizing surgical instruments. In Mar/April, Dan went to Mada to explore local markets in search of materials to manufacture the baskets and locate suppliers of pressure cookers and heating sources. It immediately became clear that the marine-grade perforated stainless steel needed to make the baskets was not available in Mada. Discussions with engineers on board the Africa Mercy Ship soon resolved this problem when they discovered that the material we needed was identical to what the ship used in making their own water filters. Upon checking their inventory, they discovered that they had exactly enough “extra” sheets to manufacture 30 baskets, the number that we needed. Thank you to those who were involved on the ship! The next challenge was finding pressure cookers. Although local retailers carried pressure cookers, they were not large enough for our purposes.  Eventually we were able to find a local medical supplier who was able to order them for us from India. Finding a supplier of non-electrical heating sources was discovered through an internet search. Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire (ADES) is a Swiss-Madagascan NGO that produces solar cookers in Madagascar to support the use of renewable energy sources. Their objective is to reduce wood fuel and charcoal consumption by providing solar cookers and fuel-efficient stoves for everyday cooking. We were hoping that their solar dish would generate adequate heat and pressure for our pressure cookers, however, after several unsuccessful tests with the solar dish we tested both wood and charcoal stoves, finding them effective in obtaining needed heating levels.