The challenge of providing safe medical instrument sterilization
In many parts of the world, we take the proper and safe sterilization and cleaning of medical instruments such as scalpels for granted. Yet, both in the developed and developing world infectious diseases caused by the improper cleaning of medical instruments presents a considerable challenge for the provision of safe healthcare. In particular, health facilities in rural regions that are not connected to the electricity grid face myriad challenges in terms of sterilizing medical instruments due to the large energy requirements of conventional autoclaves, devices that sterilize medical instruments with a combination of high temperatures, pressurized steam, and vacuum conditions.
Despite the remarkable gains that have been made in global health in the past 25 years, mortality and morbidity from common conditions needing surgery have grown in the world’s poorest regions. Concurrently, the development of safe, essential and life-saving surgical care in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) has stagnated or in some cases regressed. Unfortunately, around 5 billion people do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed. Access is worst in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, where nine out of ten people cannot access basic surgical care. As a result, around 1⁄3 of patients in the developing world suffer from post-operative infections due to unsafe surgery.
About Noor Medical – Safe Surgery Anywhere
At Noor Medical we decided to tackle this challenge by applying the principles of sustainable development, seeking positive social, environmental and economic impacts. Noor Medical is a social enterprise dedicated to improving healthcare outcomes in rural clinics around the world by providing sterilization equipment that operates independently from the national electricity grid. The Noor Medical Hybriclave can operate either with solar energy, with a PV-battery system, other thermal energy inputs such as cooking gas, or conventional electricity, when available. We thus enable health facilities with unstable electricity supplies to maintain safe medical equipment sterilization processes even in times of power shortages. While our first design was operating with solar-thermal energy as the major energy input, our latest design operates with a PV-battery system which enables the clinics to sterilize their equipment inside the clinics, at night and on cloudy days.
Additionally, we developed a non-electric vacuum functionality in cooperation with Fraunhofer FEP, a renowned German research institution. This added functionality further enables clinics to safely sterilize small tubes and porous materials and considerably reduces the sterilization time.
Noor Medical’s success story
Noor Medical was founded in late 2017 and quickly developed from a student project to a fully-fledged social enterprise. A major milestone in 2018 has been the presentation of Noor Medical at the United Nations in New York City as a UN Hult Prize Finalist, selected out of over 150.000 applications in a yearlong selection process. This year, Noor Medical is excited to be supported by Dubai Expo 2020 to finalize the user-interface testing of our Hybriclave in Uganda.
We are proud to be partnered with some of the leading organizations of the safe surgery 2020 movement such as SPECT and Lifebox. Noor Medical highly values diversity, meaning that not only the four co-founders, Laila Berning (Germany), Andrew Bonneau (United States), Saji Zagha (Palestine) and Federico Castillejo (Colombia), hail from four different countries but that also the selection of our partners reflects the value of diverse perspectives. We are thus partnered with organizations ranging from the very local level to major international organizations.
My story with Noor Medical
In my capacity as the CEO of Noor Medical, I am responsible for Noor Medical’s partnership development and overseeing the company’s direction. I have a background in environmental science and governance and I am passionate about solving complex socio-environmental challenges to achieve sustainable development. My involvement with different entrepreneurial activities started due to my confidence in the power of social entrepreneurship as a means to achieve positive social and environmental impacts through transitioning from corporate social responsibility towards socially and environmentally responsible corporations. In my work, I am thus focusing on corporate social-environmental leadership.
My work has been recognized by UNEP where I have been nominated as a 2019 Young Champion of the Earth Finalist. I have also been invited to participate in international conferences such as the World Youth Forum in Egypt and the Africa Health Business Symposium in Egypt. In addition to my work at Noor Medical, I have also been involved as a judge and start-up mentor for the 2019 Hult Prize cohort tackling youth unemployment around the world.