50 cents Microscope ! What an invention !

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We can talk about affordable healthcare and what the government should do – until the cows come home !
Other way out is to take notice of what is happening around us and try and bring these new inventions and discoveries
into our society and medical practice is perhaps another way of dealing with things.

Manu Prakash holding foldscope Origami microscope
Manu Prakash holding foldscope up in the air

One such interesting and very practical invention which might help the medical community to foster
affordable health care and diagnosis is here.

According to Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University -Research microscopes are not designed for field testing. Neither were they first designed for diagnostics at all.” They’re heavy, bulky, a hassle to maintain and cost upwards of $200, too expensive for most people in the developing countries where infectious diseases strike the hardest”.

So Prakash scaled up the diagnostic ability of the microscope by scaling it down — way down. He invented the Foldscope, a microscope made of a bookmark-sized piece of folded cardstock embedded with a teensy lens. It costs only 50 cents to make and can be folded together, origami-style, in less than 20 minutes.

Foldscope magnifies samples up to 2,000 times, allowing health workers to easily spot disease-causing microbes. And it’s durable too, as Prakash discovered after he stomped on it, hurtled it from a third-story window and tossed it into the washing machine — so it’s probably safe to say that it can weather the harsh conditions of most developing countries.

An estimated 3.4 billion people — half of the world’s population — are at risk of malaria. Many undergo testing, providing blood samples that health workers then stain and examine under a microscope for the disease-causing parasite. It’s a simple procedure that takes minutes.

With this invention, diagnosing malaria, tuberculosis should be easier, faster and affordable for an estimated 3.4 billion people — who are at risk of malaria.


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