Two female Biomedical Engineering students of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, have developed cheaper hand-powered centrifuge equipment.
The centrifuge is one of the most important diagnostic tools for detecting diseases like malaria and African sleeping sickness.
The students created the centrifuge equipment by converting a whirligig, an age-old local playing device, known in Akan as Akata.
The students - Sanaa Mehmood and Rose Adu Darko, together with the supervisor, Prince Odame said they hope the hand-powered device will be beneficial to hospitals in the rural areas especially.
A centrifuge is a high-speed liquid sampling spinning device. It makes heavier materials to travel towards its bottom tube quicker than under force of normal gravity.
In the case of blood, less heavy plasma stays afloat while parasites like malaria-causing plasmodium settle in the middle and blood cells at the bottom tube.
“In malaria diagnosis, centrifuges are very crucial though they are expensive. The cheapest price you can have is about GHC12,000 and poor communities in the village can’t have it,” Prince Odame noted.
The characteristic humming sound it makes in motion gives it the name, ‘Akatahin’ in Akan.
According to the students, the dream is that ‘Akata’ will become a a formidable medical tool.
“We employed the junction pipe which is easy to acquire for easy spinning and then we used Velcro to stick the two discs together before we spin,” Sanaa explains the procedure.
A capillary tube is used to draw blood samples and fixed inside the straw.
The hand-powered centrifuge works by holding the spanned electrical junction pipes.
As the operator moves the handle back and forth, it produces a force called torque which causes the disc to rotate.
The rotating tubes containing blood samples are well separated for testing in a matter of 2 minutes.
“We hope hospitals in urban communities where there are dumsor and rural areas can benefit from this as they don’t need a professional to operate it. It’s a simple machine. The good thing is, the price is around 10 cedis,” Sanaa stated.
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