Cairo University

MTPR Journal

 

APPLYING PHYSICS to LIFE - DEVELOPMENT of HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGY for THE COMMON PEOPLE - in THE LIGHT of BANGLADESH EXPERIENCE

2016-12-17
Dr.K Siddique-e Rabbani
Honorary Professor, Department of Biomedical Physics & Technology University of Dhaka, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Vol./Issue: 16 , id: 183

Technology and science are at the root of human civilization. In the medical scenario, right from the simple mercury thermometer to gigantic PET scanners, healthcare technology has proliferated to a stage beyond imagination of the common person; Physics being the major knowledge base behind all these developments. However, selfish desires to grab all the benefits led to unprecedented technology deprivation and unacceptable human sufferings to about 80% of the global population who eventually turned out to be the residents of the so called ‘Third World’ or the ‘Low Resource Countries (LRC)’.The educated and trained scientists and technologists in these LRCs contributed further to this divide by indulging in publication driven research or ‘glamourous’ research keeping themselvesin isolated ‘bubbles’ and being oblivious to the sufferings of their own populations who had supported all the expenditures in educating them and in bearing the costs of research, however meagre that may be. The author felt that the only solution to the above mentioned scenariolies in the development of technology needed to enhance the quality of life of the common people within each of the national boundaries, particularly within the LRCs and this realisation brought himstraight back home in 1978, after obtaining a PhD in microelectronics which was rather irrelevant to his country but offered high job prospects in the North. At home he looked for avenues in science that could be useful to the people.A research in a medical problem initiated by a senior gave him a direction and a subsequent academic link with UK scientists boosted the horizon and expertise. Over the last 38 years the author’s team developed severalmodern healthcare devices including computer based ones which are being used in hospitals, clinics or by patients, even beyond the borders of Bangladesh. Some wereroutinely used for more than twenty years, unimaginable for any imported equipment! These devices include, i)Computerised EMG/Nerve conduction equipment, ii) Computerised ECG equipment (also used in telemedicine for online transmission of data), iii)Computerised dynamic Pedograph (for foot pressure distribution mapping), iv)Iontophoresis equipment for treatment of excessive sweating (used by patients at home), v)Muscle & Nerve stimulator (for physiotherapy), vi) Low cost semi-functional mechanical prosthetic hand, vii) Intraoperative Neuro Monitor (for monitoring nerves during brain or spinal surgery) and viii) Electrical Bio-Impedance devicefor localised physiological monitoring.Such efforts also gave the expertise and experience to fill in gaps that were revealed when the devices were used for clinical work or for research, which led to innovations in the areas of nerve conduction in the form of a new parameter, ‘Distribution of FLatency (DFL)’ and in general physiological study and diagnosis through another new technique, ‘Focused Impedance Method (FIM)’. Both of these have been taken up for research by advanced universities of the world including Norway and UK.The author’s team deliberately refrained from taking out patents, rather they have established an ‘International Centre for Technology Equalisation (ICTEq)’ for dissemination of the matured technologies. They have also innovated very simple techniques for providing germ-free drinking water using solar Pasteurisation that a rural user can make from easily available materials. The author’s group also got involved in the manufacture and dissemination of the developed technology and in establishing a telemedicine network within the countrydeveloping their own hardware and software. The success of all the above effort has started to become visible and has beenacclaimed nationally and internationally. Financial support has also started pouring in from national and international sources. All these efforts and models for dissemination have immense potentials to solve some of the major problems in the healthcare sector, particularly in the LRCs and the author expects serious discussions on these issues in a forum such as the MTPR-2016.