African innovation improves treatment of gunshot wounds

This new device is revolutionising the way trauma is treated.

South African doctors have developed a device to improve the management of life-threatening wounds. Around 1000 prototypes later, the Sinapi Chest Drain created by doctors at Sinapi Biomedical, South Africa, dramatically improves the treatment of gunshot wounds, stab wounds and other trauma. The device and other African innovations are on show at the Innovation Effect Africa Conference in Durban.

"In the end, it took five years and more than 1000 prototypes to develop a valve that could drain air, blood and clots and to prove through a clinical trial that it was safe to use on patients,” Chris de Villiers, head of Sinapi Biomedical, told a local South African publication, Times Live.

The innovation is one of many at the conference which seeks to promote promising innovations, drive investment and strengthen Africa’s role as a major player in global health technology development and innovation. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius and an internationally renowned biodiversity scientist, delivered the keynote address.

“Africa’s future depends on its scientists,” said Gurib-Fakim. “Africa urgently needs science, technology, and innovation to secure a prosperous, healthy, peaceful, and sustainable future.”

The event also highlighted a number of recent examples of how African scientists, entrepreneurs, and innovators are meeting local health challenges and contributing to economic development. These included:

A low-cost device to help stop bleeding during childbirth, a leading cause of maternal deaths

The immense need for better drugs to treat tuberculosis

A low-cost kit being manufactured in Nigeria to reduce maternal deaths

A low-cost kit being manufactured in Nigeria to reduce maternal deaths

The conference was convened by PATH, an international NGO that accelerates innovation to improve healthcare, together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Leapfrog Investments, Nepad and Wellcome Trust.