A step towards empowering health workers

Kanav Kahol of Public Health Foundation of India devised Swasthya Slate, a diagnostic kit capable of conducting multiple tests
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First Published: Mon, Jul 01 2013. 10 43 PM IST
Kahol says India needs to move to a forefront health worker-centred model. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/Mint
Kahol says India needs to move to a forefront health worker-centred model. Photo: Rituparna Banerjee/Mint
New Delhi: In 2011, when Kanav Kahol returned to India after a stint as an assistant professor in Arizona University and Mayo Clinic in the US, he was impressed by the need and scale of affordable diagnostics in the country. The doctor-patient ratio in India is abysmal at one doctor per 1,700 persons.
“We need to move away from a doctor-centred model, to a patient-centred model or a forefront health worker-centred model,” said Kahol.
In order to empower health workers, Kahol’s Affordable Health Technologies team at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) devised Swasthya Slate, a diagnostic kit capable of conducting nine tests that include tests for blood pressure, blood sugar, blood haemoglobin and heart rate. The diagnosis is displayed on the interface almost immediately.
A Swasthya Slate kit includes an interface unit, a tablet and the peripherals bag containing all the equipment needed to perform the physiological analysis, and disposables like ECG electrodes. Within six months, Swasthya Slate will have 25 diagnostic methods ranging from tests for typhoid to hepatitis.
Swasthya Slate currently costs Rs.30,000 and is expected to cost Rs.15,000-Rs.20,000 after mass production. “We’re targeting public health centres as markets in order to empower the frontline health workers,” said Kahol. “We asked them what they need and they asked if we could put all the material needed for various kinds of diagnostics together in one package,” he explained.
PHFI had set out to bring an affordable and convenient solution to common people who had to stand in queues and wait for days for basic diagnostic tests, or shell out exorbitant fees at private centres. The aim was also to help the primary healthcare workers, who according to Kahol, are the “heroes of the country’s health system”.
Apart from affordability, easy usability is one of the primary qualities kept in mind before the product was designed.
Swasthya Slate has already been deployed in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, New Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana. Outside India, the device has even been used in the US, Europe, Nigeria and Canada.
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First Published: Mon, Jul 01 2013. 10 43 PM IST