With the long-term goal of implementing a sickle cell anemia screening tool in Sierra Leone, there are several stakeholders with unique motivations which we need to keep in mind.
The most affected by our product will probably be the community members getting tested. Although our goal is to create a screening tests which will impact the entire population, ultimately those most impacted by our device will be the individuals with sickle cell anemia and their families. For these stakeholders, the priority is a highly sensitive test. Because early screening and detection can result in better treatments, the priority for these stakeholders would be to have an accurate test with as few false negatives as possible.
Another important stakeholder for our test strip would be the healthcare providers (doctors or community health workers) who are administering the test. In addition to desiring a highly sensitive test for the well-being of their patients, these individuals probably also prioritize an easy-to-use device. With this stakeholder in mind, one of our primary goals for this test is to make it point-of-care, meaning it is portable, quick, and non labor-intensive.
A third important stakeholder would be the person paying for the test strips. Since early sickle cell anemia diagnosis can improve treatment decisions, we would never want to limit people’s access to the test due to financial constraints. Because of this, we would want to make sure that the test was payed for by the government (if this sort of test is covered through a public healthcare system) or an NGO. Because of this, the primary motivation for these individuals is probably to keep the test as low-cost as possible.
A fourth important stakeholder would be the individuals involved in distributing our product within Sierra Leone. Since we would like to make this product as socially and economically sustainable as possible, the goal would be to hire locals to distribute the product. The primary motivations for these individuals would therefore be to make enough money to provide for their families. Because of that, we would want to make sure to provide reasonable compensation, taking into consideration the local economy (such as the practice of paying for small quantities of things at a time, instead of paying regular, larger bills).
The final major stakeholder would be the producers of the test strip. Although ideally we would produce this product in-country to provide additional employment opportunities and reduce distribution costs, this probably is not feasible. Because of this, we would need to find a company that can scale up our production of test strips for a low cost. Because this company will likely be in the US, their primary motivations will likely be profits. Although this could create challenges with balancing the motivations of different stakeholders, our priority as a team will always be to provide these test strips to as many people in Sierra Leone as possible.
Project Credibility/Validation over the semester
In order to validate our project progress throughout the semester, there are several things which we will try to accomplish. First, since the Ukeweli test strip team has a similar product to ours, but is at a significantly further stage, we should check in with them to see if they have any comments or suggestions on our product and ideas. Similarly, we would like to speak with individuals from industry who can give us feedback and advice on our test strip. Because our advisor, Prof. Cheng, knows people who work on lateral flow devices, these individuals may be able to help us as we optimize our test or overcome a particular challenge with the design. Finally, in order validate our work so far, and reflect on the next steps, our team would like to put together an abstract for the IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference. Not only would an acceptance to this conference validate our accomplishments and ideas, but the process of putting together the abstract will also allow us to reflect on our project so far.