CINQ Blog Post # 11

Our inputs include a variety of people and materials. Specifically, we as the GSIF team are working with our advisor, Prof. Cheng, and a TE capstone group to contribute bioengineering expertise towards the development of a low-cost, point-of-care, sickle cell anemia screening device. For this development, we are utilizing Lehigh University lab resources and funding (which will hopefully be expanded by health-related grants). Additionally, we will be getting local and healthcare system expertise from community members in Sierra Leone established through our partnership with World Hope International. In the future, we also hope to include business students, in order to get expertise on distributing the final product.

In addition to these inputs, our team focuses on several activities. Currently, our activities involve designing the device, and learning about the local context so that we can best implement our device. In the future, our activities will focus on distributing the test strip, training healthcare workers on using the device, and working with other NGOs to make sure our device is implemented alongside a treatment regime.

With these inputs and activities, we will create several outputs. Our primary output will be a physical test strip product. Additionally, we will develop jobs for locals in Sierra Leone who will be charged with distributing the device. Finally, our outputs will also include the participants we reach, specifically the healthcare providers who are conducting the testing, and community members who are getting tested. These outputs are directly measurable. We will determine the number of test strips that need to be developed and shipped/distributed to the healthcare providers and ultimately the community members by the amount of funding we receive and projected number of people who will be seeking the test. Once one shipment has been sent out, more concrete numbers for the amount of test strips that need to be delivered at one and how frequently to specific locations will be determined after statistics on the number of people tested and where they got tested have been collected. These statistics will be provided by the medical professionals stationed in different locations throughout the country who will be offering and administering the test.

Finally, our project will also have several short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes or impacts. Within a few years, we will hopefully have created a new and usable product which can be used to diagnose people in Sierra Leone with sickle cell anemia. After that, we hope to make a direct impact on community members by allowing individuals to get screened for sickle cell anemia at an early age, and access those potentially life saving preventative treatments. In the intermediate, we also hope that this product can also be expanded in to other low-resource settings, particularly throughout sub-Saharan Africa, where sickle cell anemia is prevalent. These intermediate impacts then have the long-term potential to reduce child mortality due to sickle cell anemia. Once we are able to implement screening for sickle cell anemia with our device at birth or at a young age (before 5) we will be able to take/track statistics around child mortality and determine if child mortality due to sickle cell anemia is going down. If the child mortality, due to sickle cell anemia, rate does not decrease this could be due to the lack of people getting screened or the lack of treatment after being diagnosed. We do not foresee the lack of treatment being a problem for there are cheap penicillin based treatments available. If the child mortality rate does not go down we will need to rethink where and how we have implemented the device and try/decide if it’s possible to make sickle cell screening mandatory at birth.

Additionally, we hope that by working with other NGOs, this product can be used to help bring about policy and social action changes. For example, although hydroxyurea is proven to reduce the symptoms of sickle cell anemia, and has been used successfully for patients in the US for years, it is not currently available in sub-Saharan Africa (original due to concerns that this treatment could increase the risk for malaria, which has recently been disproven). With the effective implementation of a low-cost, point-of-care sickle cell anemia diagnostic tool, we can hopefully initiate a push for health NGOs to make policy changes, getting this treatment to individuals in Sierra Leone. The data stating the number of people being screened and the information around how people are being treated for sickle cell anemia after being diagnosed can and should be presented to NGOs funding medical treatments. Once presented the data these NGOs will hopefully push for policy changes to allow for more options for treatment, like hydroxyurea, that will hopefully reach and affect more people positively.

In order to estimate the social return on investment of our project requires several assumptions. The value of every person who is screened will be equated to the average cost of sickle cell screening in the United States ($50 will be used as a very rough estimate of this price). We would also have to know what the value of each strip would be. To estimate this we would have to assume that one strip accounts for all labor, transportation, materials and other costs associated with eventually delivering the test. For the purpose of this estimation let us say that the total cost per test strip is $0.50. If we make these assumptions, then we can say that for every dollar that is given to the project we generate $100 dollars of social value. One dollar would equate to two test strips which would be used to screen patients. These two screenings in turn would equate to the value of being screened in the United States.

Making the assumption that the $50 test value is the only social value created by our project is false. In reality, the ability to understand and get treatment for sickle cell is very valuable but is not able to be monetized.

Blog Post #10

The NIH Research Project Grant Program (R01) would be an excellent fit for the sickle cell anemia project due to the qualifications for the grant. As stated on the NIH website, the grant must go towards a project working on a very specific topic and the people working on it should be qualified and interested in the project and the possible outcomes. Furthermore, this grant is meant to help projects based in health and our project has the potential to help millions of lives all across the world. Similarly, the USAID development innovation ventures grant (DIV) is also a very viable option for our project. The goal of the DIV grant is to help fund projects that are looking to solve development issues through creative solutions at a cost that is a fraction of the current options. This fits the mold of our sickle cell project as we aim to give people a way to screen for sickle cell in places where there are essentially no viable ways to do so at the current moment.

UNICEF would be a viable option for our sickle cell test strip project as we reach the dissemination stage of the project. We cannot expect people to pay for the use of our device and we would need a group to subsidize the majority of the cost for the test strips.

In order for our product to be successfully distributed we will mainly need partners who will help with the dissemination of the project. Some of these groups include the ministry of health, UKAID, UNICEF, and the Sickle Cell Disease Coalition. All of these groups could facilitate in the distribution of the test strips or the payment for the test strips. People should not be charged to use our test strips. NGO’s and other organizations must work to cover some of the cost of the test strips in hopes of saving the most live possible. Without having these partnerships, we would be charging hospitals a large amount of money to buy our test strips. This is an issue because many hospitals and health care organizations within Sierra Leone  do not have enough money to pay for these test strips which make our partnerships with NGO’s even more important.

Furthermore, partnering with WHO or another large organization to establish training for the test strips would be crucial to the implementation of our strips into the health care systems in many parts of the world. The WHO could help develop a training system for nurses and doctors so they are properly trained in our test strip procedure. Having a partnership with the WHO or similar organizations could allow to the development of distribution channels which may be difficult to establish as many people are isolated throughout very rural areas of the world which can barely be reached by vehicle.

Moreover, having a partnership with the company that will be producing out test strips would also be a necessity as we would need a strong relationship with the company that would be handling the production of the strips to ensure the best quality production of our products.

Blog #9

For this blog post, I decided to look into the company, Envirofit International, and develop a business model canvas around it. I also worked with Chris Fereno on this blog post.

Envirofit International is a social enterprise that innovates smart energy products and services such a wood burning stoves and human-powered flashlights.

The key partners in this company are quite large. From the partner sections on their website, partners include The One Acre Fund, OPIC, Shell Foundation, Ukaid, GIZ, and many more (1). These are partners that the company works with to provide funding and revenue streams. Key partners can also be found in acquiring materials for the creation of these products, however, these partners aren’t public knowledge.

The key activities for this business are providing affordable alternatives to normal wood burning stoves, by creating a wood burning compartment at the bottom of the stove, to conserve the heat given off by the burning wood. This reduces the amount of wood required to cook any given meal and saves time and resources for those using it in a developing country. Along with the stoves, Envirofit also produces hand-crank flashlights and solar-powered lanterns. These devices allow those without a steady electricity source to produce their own electricity and thus light and power for a multitude of applications. These technologies allow people in developing countries to save energy, time and money to be more efficient and opens up many different doors for the people that use them as the applications are endless.

The key resources for this business are also quite large. It requires metal producers for all of the stove components, and for the flashlights and lanterns a multitude of different metals components such as wires, casing, and circuit boards required to create the product. Also, plastics for casings, buttons, and other internal parts are also needed (2). Of course, packaging and shipping supplies are also required but aren’t a part of the product itself. Envirofit’s key distribution channels are through their partners like UKaid that pays for and delivers hundreds of these stoves and flashlights across a multitude of developing countries.

The value proposition is quite simple actually. The entire point of this company is to provide energy and money saving products to those in developing countries. Their products claim to reduce the required energy by upwards of 80% in some of their products. This allows users in developing countries to save money, resources and time which are rare commodities in developing countries. The biggest issue the company address is the lack of available biomass to burn to cook food and boil water.

Envirofit is able to create very strong customer relationships due to the marketing strategies used and the nature of the product itself. The product itself makes a fire appear as though there is little to no smoke, possibly confusing people who do not understand how it works. Since people may not use their products if they do not understand the way they work, it is important that people go and explain how the product works and why it will make their lives better. This also can double as a marketing plan, if people saw how great the product is they are more likely to spread the word about it, raising awareness about the product and possibly creating more future clients. Moreover, as the company grows and is able to provide less hands on support they also have create a very reliable customer service branch of their company. Moreover, Envirofit is able to partner with companies that also care about making a positive impact throughout the world financially helping people in eveloping countries while simultaneously making a positinve ecological impact (3)

Envirofit has been able to build several distribution channels throughout the years. The website for Envirofit includes many options for distribution. People can become a dealer of the stoves themselves, possibly spreading the product locally. Similarly, people or groups of people can sign up to become distributors. These distributors would handle very large shipments of products. Large companies and organizations can partner with Envirofit to distribute stoves to places in need (4).

The customer segments for Envirofit fall under two main characteristics, those who cannot afford the price of gas or fuel and those who can. People who are unable to afford this product could possibly change their by having one of these products, helping them save money over time. Customers who are able to afford gas could use this product save some money as well as help the environment. Since the stove product is cheaper and more ecologically friendly than normal stoves, it could help people financially as well as help them pollute less. Those who cannot afford the cost of gas are the most important customers as they may not be able to eat or stay warm without a stove.

The cost structure of Envirofit  revolves around the total price of their product. There are many factors that go into the final price of an Envirofit product. Having materials that are inexpensive is essentially necessary for a company that intends to help those in developing countries. Without the ability to manufacture the product at a very low cost it would not be feasible for Envirofit to service developing countries. Similarly, Envirofit had to build the distribution channels to reach more people in need, without the cost of reliable distribution many people may not have received the help that an Envirofit product provides.

The revenue streams of Envirofit revolve around the great value their products have. Many people throughout developing countries struggle with the costs of daily life and they are able to receive some financial help by using Envirofit products. People are able to improve their overall quality of life for themselves and their families. Moreover, their products also provide ecological value to their customers, according to the Envirofit website, their stoves are able to reduce fuel use up to 60% (5). The Envirofit products give people a chance to reduce their impact on the environment without sacrificing any part of their daily life.




Blog Post #8

One of the main takeaways I took from guy Kawasaki’s talk was that we should accept any business that we get even if it was not our main target of customers. It would be almost discouraging to see people other than our target audience have interest in our product although at least someone would be using it even if we weren’t making the most impact possible. We could use the momentum from our customers to help us expand to the areas where we can make the most impact. Similarly, another takeaway I had revolves around a method of thinking. I took away the idea that we shouldn’t overthink anything, like a mission statement or design for the test strip. Our time and energy could be used in better ways than developing the perfectly worded mission statement, or other things of that nature, and I believe keeping that in mind will help us stay on track as we progress our project forward. Another takeaway I had from his talk was that I believe a MAT would be very helpful for our project. Due to the many grants and conference deadlines that are around us, we could benefit from the organization of a MAT. We would be able to stay on task and complete our goals in a very organized manor which would be useful. Another thing I learned from his talk was that we are always high and to the right with this project. We are providing something of high value to many people, eventually allowing them to live more healthy lives.

  • Value Proposition
    • Our test strips will provide people with a screening device for a very serious genetic disease. People in developing countries are unable to get themselves tested for sickle cell which is why we are developing our product.
  • Customer Segments
    • Our customers are generally from developing countries where people do not make much money. They would not have the resources to receive the medical attention and testing they need so we would provide them with our test strips.
  • Channels
    • Our test strips will be given to the people who help with the most births. This could meant that community health workers, doctors, nurses and other health care workers will most likely have our test strips available to them to be used when children are being born, to screen them for sickle cell.
  • Customer Relationships
    • We would need to expand where our test strips are available in order to gain new clients. AS new children are born each day, they can be screened by our strips which would essentially give us a constant flow of new customers. We are unable to keep our customers as our product shouldn’t require more than one use. Our customers should essentially be hospitals and other organizations which would be purchasing our products consistently as a very cheap way to screen people for sickle cell. In order to make sure these organizations continue to buy our products we need to ensure the low price, and the quality of our test strips along with make connections with the people in these organizations to make sure they understand that we want to help as much as possible.
  • Revenue Streams
    • We would sell our products in mass amounts to hospitals and governments which would sell and distribute the test strips as they see fit. It is very likely that these places would make consistent purchases each year to deal with newborn children.
  • Key Resources
    • In order to execute our business plan we need to make sure we have the finances to do so along with a manufacturing plan to create the correct amount of strips needed. We would also need methods to deliver our product to the locations of choice. We have needed experts to help consult us on problems we have run into throughout our testing. Without these things we would never have a chance of making this venture work.
  • Key Partners
    • Lehigh University and the funding they give towards this project are most likely the most valuable assets we have. They provide professionals with experience who can help guide us towards the correct solutions. We also have relied on companies such as GE to deliver some of their products to us. As this becomes more of a large scale operation, we would need consistent deliveries from GE and Sigma Aldrich which would give us the materials to construct our test strips.
  • Key Activities
    • In order to make our business model work, we must develop a working product that can provide people with significant and helpful results. Without this we would have no product and therefore no business. We also need to make sure we have a positive relationship with the people we are supplying our product to as their business is very important to the success of our business model.
  • Cost Structure
    • We will spend our money producing and shipping our products while we should be able to gain steady incomes from hospitals, governments and other groups as it is very important that people are screened when they are born.

GSIF Blog Post #7

Customer Assumptions That need to be Validated:

1. It is assumed that the people of Sierra Leone will be concerned enough about sickle cell to get themselves and their children tested. We are assuming that people will be concerned over this topic but there is a possibility that many of the people will not care too much about sickle cell.

2. It is assumed that the people of Sierra Leone will have the desire to see health care workers enough to get tested. People must see a health care worker to receive this test, although many people either may not have access to health care workers or not have the desire to visit the health care workers frequently.

3. It is assumed that the people of Sierra Leone have the ability to reach the people and or places to have our tests administered. It is possibly that their is a large proportion of the population in Sierra Leone that does not have frequent access to health care workers or facilities.

4. It is assumed that the people of Sierra Leone will be able to afford our products and have the tests administered. The price of a visit to a health care worker may be too much for many people to afford.

5. It is assumed that our products would be able to be shipped throughout the country to locations that need them. There is a need for a delivery  service for the tests strips to make sure people are not running out of tests. Without the delivery system, it would be very difficult to acquire the test strips as they would be many hours away.

6. Another assumption is the ability to visually diagnose sickle cell. As a society that has not had a proven way to identify and diagnose sickle cell they may have become very adept at knowing who does and does not have sickle cell based off of their symptoms. They may be good enough at this that there is no need for our product.

7. We are assuming that the people who will be administering the tests will have a way to handle blood and dispose of it in an appropriate manor. People would have a large risk of contracting diseases if they did not have an appropriate way to handle the blood when administering the test.


Hypotheses that need to be tested:

  1. The ability to use the test strip needs to be tested within Sierra Leone. There is a possibility that the product may be very intuitive for people from other societies, there could be many people who are confused by the test, making the likely hood for error much higher.
  2. The ability to use our tests in the conditions of Sierra Leone. Any of the solutions used in the test may react differently due to the conditions of Sierra Leone. It is theoretically possible that the conditions of Sierra Leone would have a negative impact on the quality of the test results.
  3. Finding the most suitable packaging for the situation within Sierra Leone needs to be tested. We are unsure of what is most familiar for people and what would be too difficult of a packaging system. People need to be interviewed about this topic as well as test our product if it is ready.
  4. We will have to test the blood of many people and decide how accurate it is will real human blood samples. We would need to compare the results for the real patients to those of the known trial tests in order to determine what level of accuracy and precision our product has.
  5.  The amount of time a product can be outside of its packaging before becoming useless is one factor that may change when in the conditions of Sierra Leone. That amount of time is necessary information for anyone who would be administering the tests.

I believe I bring a sense of confidence to my team. Things can be difficult and uncomfortable at times but I believe I can sense when people need to see someone step up and be a leader and I have been able to step into confident leaders when people are in need of one. I have an issue sustaining it for longer periods of time but I can put forth a a sense of confidence and calmness which is able to allow other people in my group to relax a little more.

GSIF Blog Post #6

Our research will require human subjects at a certain point. We will need to test the reliability of the test on actual human subjects who either do or do not have the sickle cell traits. Although we will be asking to use human subjects I believe our work is not harmful at all to the subjects. Their blood would be taken the same way by people who were trained to do it through the same protocol every time. In order to receive IRB approval, we would need to give explicit details about what we would be doing with the subjects and how we will make sure that they are safe at all times. We would create a procedure which makes sure that the human subjects are given the same treatment as every other subject. We would have the blood drawn and the questions asked the same way every time to ensure that the subjects are able to give consistent and safe data. We would be using the blood samples to test our test strips accuracy and reliability, we would not need to collect other data which would be deemed private. The risk any given subject is at is very low due to the fact that only a small amount of blood would be needed. Furthermore, we would need to acquire consent from the subjects in order to use their samples. We would need to establish the language in which we are asking the questions and if we would need a translator. If we decide we would like to administer the questions in a language other than English we would need to ensure that we are able to have a translator and that we would be able to provide the correct documentation to allow us to administer the questions in another language. Due to the fact that we would like to collect blood samples from human subjects we would require IRB approval. We would explain the low risk of our procedure and the fact that each subject would be treated exactly the same as any other subject. We would decide on the necessity of a translator, if needed we would fill out the required documentation to administer the questions and blood draw in another language if we felt there was a large enough need. Once we have acquired all the necessary information we would submit our application using the latest version of the application.


Situation: Sickle cell is a major issue within many countries and it has killed thousands of people each year.

Needs and assets: We need to create a product, therefore we need funding, space, and materials. These are provided by Lehigh University.

Problems: Finding the correct procedure which will allow for the conjugation of a control line and a test line for our product.

Stakeholders: All people who believe they may affected by sickle cell are stake holders. Having a very inexpensive way to test for sickle cell could allow people to manage their symptoms in a much more efficient way, keeping them healthier for a longer time.

Priorities: Creating a product which is reliable and will have as little error as possible while also creating the most impact as possible throughout the areas it is implemented and then other areas as we spread our product.

What we Invest: We invest time, money, resources, along with the time of those who helped give their opinion on the project. Anyone who contributes to the project is investing their time, even if it is a small amount. Furthermore, many people have been spoken to about the project and their expertise and knowledge base is also invested into the project.

Who we Reach: We will be reaching all the people who have not had a way to get tested for sickle cell in the past. With our product everyone who in unsure if they have sickle cell can get tested as well as any children who may need an inexpensive way to be tested.

What we do: We are creating a product which will identify if sickle cell is being expressed within that person. Our product will be a small test strip which can be administered by health workers who have received the correct training for the test strips.

Results in terms of Learning: Many people will be bale to gain a sense of medical clarity as they will be able to know if they have a disease which could have drastically changed their lives. This will also hopefully raise awareness for sickle cell anemia as they will have a way to more easily test for the disease.

Results in terms of Changing action: We are filling the void between those who are able to pay for testing and those who are not.

Results in terms of change to the conditions: People will be able to reach out for specific help due to their increased knowledge about their own health, allowing people to live overall healthier lives.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post #5

As someone who grew up in a small town where most of the work done on my house, and land, was done by myself and my family, I have been able to develop problem solving and design process skills throughout the years. One of the main ways we would design a project was by first identifying the problem. From that point forward we would look into the ways that the problem has been solved before. We would then look into the reasons the widespread solution may not work for our specific situation and then we would continue to explore other options for solving the issue. Once we had come up with our best solutions we would either decide on the best one or if we needed another opinion before deciding we would contact a professional who could give their input into our situation. After making a decision I would begin the project while keeping my mind open in order to see things that may possibly cause issues. This would allow me to adapt throughout the project to ensure I could create the best solution for this project. One example of this is when the cement floor of my barn began to sink. I brainstormed ideas but I knew that the first step was going to be to remove the floor. I then immediate started to destroy and remove the floor, only to find that a natural spring was below the foundation of the barn. I essentially knew what had to be done from this point onward but I had never poured a concrete floor over a natural spring. Therefore I contacted people I knew had done this before to hear about their experiences in similar situations. Once I had discovered what I believed would be the best plan of action, I began work. I dug a water system below the barn so the water would not erode the ground below the floor. I also created a drainage system that took the water deeper below the barn while simultaneously diverting any excess water out the back of the foundation through a hole I drilled in the concrete. Once I had finished that part of the project I filled in the holes and trenches with dirt and then waited to see if the ground would be dry or continue to have a natural spring. Once I saw that my solution had worked I finished it off by pouring a concrete floor reinforced by rebar. This is the main design process that I have used over the many projects I have had throughout the years.

In order to validate our project we would run many optimization tests and also reliability tests in order to see how often our product is reliable. We would also look for accreditation from organizations (ie WHO, FDA ect) we would use these to prove that our product is reliable and can be trusted by people throughout the world. We would plan our business model around testing those who have not been tested and testing children at a very young age. Therefore if our product would be able to test a large amount (or just a small percent) of the children who are born throughout the next coming years we would be able to use newborns as our market. Children need to be tested at a young age and this would allow us to have a market for our product for years and years to come.

I believe that we a venture should be in constant contact with their market (in order to create the best product possible for their consumers). I also believe that ventures should keep in touch with the communities they are working with in order to create a product that will have the most impact on their lives. It is similar to a give and take system, we want to create the best product for our consumers and therefore we need to be in contact with them so we can create the most impactful product. I believe it i best for partners, communities, and markets when all of the mention groups are in contact and their is clarity. People need to fully understand the needs and how that will impact the partners and the market the product will be going into. When all groups have a clear understanding of what each group needs from the other, it allows for more efficient work and the development of a product that should have the most impact since the groups have been in contact for a long time.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post 4

Evolution is the law of nature which has allowed organisms to diversify into what they are today. The changes that occurred throughout millions of years has led to many organisms going extinct. Similarly, organisms would evolve in order to better survive their environment. Some of these changes were able to effect populations directly, one example of this is how homo sapiens were able to fight the malaria disease by evolving to have the trait of sickle cell( based off of where the malaria disease is common and the. This trait allowed people to ward off the symptoms of malaria. This example is similar to a state of mind, you always want to adapt to the situation and make yourself better. Improving this project and making it the most impactful it can be. Similarly, due to the second law of thermodynamics, the world and all of it’s matter trend towards an increase in chaos. This can be related to the fact anything within this project and throughout daily life can change and we should be ready to accept those changes and work to make ourselves better because of them. Furthermore, the law of physics that states “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. So as we make progress on helping people identify their sickle cell disease, there if more pressure on other areas of sustainable development that need to make progress as well. Areas such as food or clean water need to advance their areas as much as the medical side has.

The life principle that I believe can apply to our lives is optimize rather than maximize. There is only so much time any one person has and there may be too many projects or tasks to handle in a certain amount of time. This is an unfortunate situation because no matter what that person does they will be living something to be desired. Therefore we have to accept that possibility that these types of situations will arise and we have to do our best to keep a clear mind and make the most of the situation. Furthermore we can apply this to our project in the sense that once the flow of the test strip has been perfected, it can take many new forms as we, and others, develop more tests which can be conjugated on our tests strips. This allows for many more advancements within the medical point-of-care diagnostic area. This can help create even more pressure on the other areas to advance their fields to match the pace of the point-of-care diagnostic field. This in turn will allow countries with lost of capital and resources to continue to help the other countries which could use assistance in several areas. With this life principle in mind we can continue to make impact throughout the world.

Based off the cradle to cradle design, we hope to make our product as sustainable as possible. We will search for the materials which will have the least amount of negative impact on the environment. We will also look for methods of recycling our materials as much as possible. I cannot image a situation where our test strips would cause any social or economic problems.

One example of something I learned from a friend was when my friend Jack and I had an amazing conversation about politics. We had differing views and it was very interesting to here someone talk about the same issues I had but from another point of view. We were able to acknowledge each others points and come to some sort of compromises on the issues we found within the current political world. I had never had a conversation of that nature and that taught me about the way of having a very intelligent conversation. Another time I learned something significance from a friend is when I learned about Islam from a friend. I learned about the history of the religion and many of their key practices and the forms they take in the modern world. This friend gave me an interesting lesson that I most likely would never have had unless I went out of my way to take a course on it. One last thing I gained from a friend is when I showed me how to work as a team. We were making several projects together along with several other people. We began not working well as a team but as the time went on my friend showed me how important it is to make a bond with the people you are working with as it will allow for people to work much better as a team.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post #3

For our project to see nay success we need people to be affected by our answer to the sickle cell problem within Sierra Leone. Therefore there must be several stakeholders who are able to benefit from our product. One of these groups is the Ministry of Health in Sierra Leone. If they were able to collect reliable data about sickle cell anemia they could treat it more appropriately. They could also profit off the possible treatment cost and the costs of our product. Similarly, Lehigh would also have much to benefit from our project being successful. They would most be able to receive recognition for the success of one of their own projects. They could boast about their program and its success and also receive money due to the project. Moreover, nurses in charge and the community health workers would be able to administer reliable meaningful diagnostic tests to their patients, creating a more medically informed community. This new test would also encourage people to see their local health official leading to a society which is more informed about their own health and how they should live their lives. This also benefits the people of Sierra Leone who would be able to know if their future child would have the disease. They could also live a healthier life knowing if they had the traits in the traits in their genomes. In summary, for a project to have purpose and a need is for their to be people who can benefit from the project.

Making sure our project has enough credibility and that our product is valid is essential, or else people would not use it. Therefore, our team must work to make sure our product is consistent, reliable, and has valid scientific evidence. In order to make our product consistent,  we would need to find the best nitrocellulose membrane, glass pad, absorbance pad and backing for our product. Each one of these materials needs to be tested rigorously to ensure that it will work at a high percentage rate. Some materials may be made better than others and we should look for the materials that have shown the best results over our use and the use of others in order to determine which materials will be consistent enough for our product. Without this, we would run the risk of our product failing while people are trying to get important results, making people lose faith that our product is consistent. Furthermore, it is essential that we also have reliable results. To insure this we must run optimization tests in order to determine the optimal amount of hemoglobin, buffers and beads to use for our product. Without running optimization tests we run the risk of having incorrect (or nonexistent) results. Moreover, we should continue to look into the many ways people have created test strips in the past and look into the practicality of using other methods and or materials to ensure that we have the most reliable results. If we were to create a product which was incorrectly diagnosing people (or not diagnosing people with sickle cell) we would lose all credibility due to the fact that nobody would be sure the result they got was correct or not. Finally, we have to be sure we understand the science behind our product or else nobody would have any faith in it. When we create a working test strip we will need to run tests to make sure we are seeing the results we expected or if we are witnessing some other binding that happens to give us results. If we were to create a product without a thorough understanding of what is happening we would have no ability to validate our own product. We need to know exactly what is happening and why or else nobody would feel confident enough to use our strips. Overall, people need to feel safe and confident in our product before they will use it. In order to do this we will need to prove the reliability, consistency, and the science behind our product. We will do this through many tests of materials and concentrations which will allow us to determine which combination of concentrations and materials will make our product the most consistent and reliable.

-Jaro Perera

GSIF Blog Post #2

The major cultural issues that we may encounter while trying to integrate our product into Sierra Leone may be more difficult to deal with than we ever expected. Although we do not know what issues will arise while in Sierra Leone, we can speculate what some of the possible issues may be before hand. One of these issues is the healthcare system within Sierra Leone. Their healthcare system is very different to the one many of us are accustomed to which could lead to issues concerning who will administer the test, along with where, and when they will be available to people. Another issue may be the possible lack of concern or knowledge about sickle cell. People may be less concerned about the disease than we are due to the fact that it is very prevalent throughout their society. One final cultural issue we may encounter is

In my personal experience, I have seen people reject very common practices due to their culture and the way they live. One example of this when someone I know fell off her horse and broke her arm. She decided not to go to the hospital because she was raised in a family where you don’t go to the hospital, you take care of issues on your own. Another similar example is when my grandfather consistently rejects the services of professionals and attempts to take on major projects by himself (Ex. cutting down a 70 ft tree or installing the plumbing system for his house). Furthermore, I have personally seen many people throughout Vermont reject food due to the fact that it was not locally grown, they are against anything that is not local and will choose not to eat food that is not locally grown. Many people have moral issues with the ways food is produced on a large scale which is why they will refuse to eat anything which they do not know how it was grown.

Since many people throughout Sierra Leone often are seen by people in the healthcare system, integrating our product into the routine of the health care professionals. Since the majority of people throughout Sierra Leone live in rural areas, the most efficient way to distribute our product would be through the healthcare professionals who are able to reach more of the rural areas. Furthermore, having our product be used by a national source would make it easier for all people in Sierra Leone to access, reaching those in the urban areas as well. Another way we may be able to get people to use our product is by teaching locals about sickle cell, giving them a reason to get tested. Moreover, increasing the overall knowledge of sickle cell could help increase awareness throughout the country, by holding information sessions (or something of that nature), we have the potential to reach many people who may never have had any idea about sickle cell.

Due to the fact that we are dealing with one of the poorest countries in the world, we have to tailor our product to that market. People do not have the same amount of money to spend on medical bills, we have to create a much cheaper option for the people of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, the ability to get medical service is more limited in rural areas of Sierra Leone than it is almost anywhere in the western world, therefore we must develop way for our product to be used on those who may not have easy access to medical services. Similarly, people may be less inclined to get tested due to the difficulty and or financial burden it may take on them.

Unfortunately, there is a much higher percentage of people who have sickle cell in Sierra Leone than there is in America. Although these people have a health issue that can make their lives very difficult, it does present us an opportunity to create a low cost diagnostic which would not be as needed and or accepted within America. This opportunity would not be as useful in the United States due to the many tests which are already available. Furthermore, the fact that Sierra Leone is very poor also gives us a chance to create a product which could spread to other countries which have a similar need for a low cost diagnostic.

– Jaro Perera