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Project Zambia

(Click here to view travel photos!)

Rural Cell Signal Amplification
Currently in Zambia, a new system has been implemented by the Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD) and the Zambia Center for Applied Health Research and Development (ZCAHRD) to expedite the return of medical test results for early infant diagnosis. This system uses mobile phones and Short Message Service (SMS) to transmit the results from Dried Blood Spot (DBS) tests, which are used to determine the HIV status of infants. Early diagnosis in infants is especially critical so that treatment plans can be implemented as soon as possible. Many times the effectiveness of the treatment can be directly related to the implementation turn around time.

Prior to this program’s implementation, test results were physically carried from the labs back to the clinic. This method is not only time consuming, but prone to issues

such as lost results or mistaken delivery. A typical timeline for this process is 6 weeks due to the 135 km one-way trip from Lusaka, the capital, to the rural Kalomo clinics we’re hoping to work with. In pilot facilities, the DBS-SMS system has decreased wait time by nearly two weeks.

However, this system relies upon cell phones, and many of these clinics are rural and out of reliable cell phone coverage. Rather than making the success of this program dependent on a technicality like signal strength, we hope to make the DBS-SMS system more accessible and reliable by developing cell phone reception boosters. There are over 10 clinics in the Kalomo region that have adopted the DBS-SMS program and struggle to find a signal, and we will focus on the Naluja clinic first. By making the HIV status of infants more accessible and reliable, we hope to aid the CGHD’s efforts for early infant diagnosis.

Our mission is to develop cell phone reception boosters, made from materials readily available in the community, and to instruct community members on the fabrication and maintenance of these boosters. Applications of this technology are not limited to DBS tests or even the health sector, and locals could even reproduce this device for personal use.

Click Here to view our antenna team's most current design.

Clean Water Access
Upon returning from our first assessment trip in Zambia, we have identified the need for clean water in the Naluja community. Water tests we performed revealed the presence of high levels of coliform bacteria, including E. Coli in several water sources that the community relies upon. We have designed a preliminary solution to address this problem: a biosand filter. This filter can serve several households and relies on gravity to filter dangerous bacteria out of the water. Several layers of sand of different sizes filter the water into a receptacle for storage. The filter can be constructed entirely out of materials available to Zambians, and we estimate the cost of one filter to be less than $45 USD, which makes it an attractive option for the community's needs.

Click Here
to view our water team's most current design.
Other Projects
The Naluja community faces a variety of challenges that were made clear to our group in the summer of 2013. Other projects our group is investigating include repair of a dam, outfitting a local vehicle into a robust ambulance, and providing sanitation solutions such as improved latrines.

We recently closed our program in Chirimoto, Peru where we worked toward a community-wide water filtration system. Other projects included hygiene and disease awareness, implementation of stove hoods, and proper battery disposal.  
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