An advanced protective suit for healthcare workers who treat Ebola patients, devised by a Johns Hopkins team, has been selected as a winning design in a global competition aimed at quickly getting new tools into the field to combat Ebola, this deadly disease.
The Johns Hopkins prototype suit was developed in partnership with Jhpiego, an international health non-profit and university affiliate, and designed to provide improved protection to keep healthcare workers from coming in contact with Ebola patients’ contagious body fluids, both during treatment and while removing a soiled suit. The prototype uses advanced sports technology and an innovative air-flow system to keep the health provider drier and cooler — an important benefit in hot, humid regions such as West Africa.
The suit was among the first winners in the U.S. Agency for International Development–sponsored Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development. The prototype is being developed by a team of medical experts, engineers, students and other volunteers under the supervision of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design (CBID) and Jhpiego’s global health experts.
The precise amount of funding and other support that USAID will award to this project has not been released. While the award is moving the suit forward to production, there is still more financial assistance needed to get the suit manufactured and to those in need providing services quickly.
The improved healthcare protective suit grew out of a weekend-long brainstorming design event at the university’s Baltimore campus in October attended by 65 participants from throughout the Hopkins community. The organizers took advantage of CBID’s close, ongoing partnership with Jhpiego, which has extensive experience in addressing global health challenges and deep expertise in training health care workers in infection prevention and control, including those in Ebola-impacted countries.
“The personal protection suit we are developing with our partners at CBID is purposefully designed to address safety and climate issues now putting health workers at risk,” said Jhpiego President and CEO Leslie Mancuso.
Among the enhancements are: a large clear visor in the hood, which is integrated into the suit; a rear zipper to reduce infection risks while removing the garment; a cocoon-style doffing process that requires far fewer steps than existing garments; and a small battery-powered, dry air source to cool the user by blowing air into the hood.
“The funding from USAID will support moving our concepts into fully functional prototypes,” said Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID. “Our goal is to follow the fastest path to get these concepts into the field and having an impact.”
SOURCE: Johns Hopkins-Jhpiego
CONTACT: Johns Hopkins Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman, Office: 443-997-9907/Cell: 410-299-7462; firstname.lastname@example.org; Jhpiego Media Contact: Ann LoLordo, Office: 410-537-1991/Cell: 443-831-3834; Ann.Lolordo@jhpiego.org