Ebola crisis prompts innovative safety suit
A new protective suit with innovative features to help protect Ebola workers on the frontline is due to be released to the market in the first half of 2016 following the recently signed licence and collaboration agreements between John Hopkins University and DuPont.
The collaboration between the major research university and the international science and engineering company began in response to the humanitarian need identified by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa last year.
So far the Ebola virus has infected more than 28,000 patients and killed over 11,000.
In December 2014, USAID selected the new Johns Hopkins prototype protective garment, made of a DuPont advanced material, as one of the first five projects to receive funding to address the crisis.
The prototype was developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), with input from global health partner Jhpiego. To reduce the risks associated with doffing, the design features a rear zipper and a 'cocoon-style' removal process. The DuPont garment may also include an integrated hood with a large clear visor.
“This unique collaboration brings together the biomedical ingenuity of Johns Hopkins, the global healthcare experience of Jhpiego and the strategic industrial innovations of DuPont to help save lives worldwide," said Youseph Yazdi, executive director of CBID.
“Although this project was triggered by the recent Ebola outbreak, we believe the improved protective suit's design will be impactful in future infectious disease outbreaks as well."
Jhpiego will field-test the prototype garment in Liberia, one of the three African countries hit hardest by the outbreak.
Leslie Mancuso, president and CEO of Jhpiego, said the garment will help ensure that frontline health workers can respond safely and with confidence to any new infectious disease outbreak.
“Hundreds of nurses, midwives and physicians selflessly responded to the Ebola outbreak and lost their lives trying to save others," said Mancuso.
“The response of Johns Hopkins, Jhpiego and DuPont to the humanitarian challenge offers a model of the ingenuity and dedication of the public and private sector to improve global health."
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