Make it locally!

The Problem

Ultrasound is the most important tool for obstetric and trauma care in resource-limited and conflict zones, where it significantly improves patient care. Despite the evidence, ultrasound use by local providers is limited due to lack of access to consumable supplies such as commercial ultrasound gel.

Any savings on consumable products would have a significant impact on public health.

The Solution

We designed a low cost ultrasound gel made from cassava root, a local starch purchasable in the local markets for very little cost.  We then validated the product for quality and safety at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, USA.


Our team of engineers, physicians, filmmakers & local market women worked with Congolese clinicians using the IDEO Design Kit: Human-Centered Design Toolkit. Research began by defining the challenge:
How do we create locally available alternative ultrasound gel for a low-resourced environment?
An expert group was queried for possible alternatives. Among the responses was cornstarch, which, while a reasonable solution, was either not available or too expensive. We then sought deeper knowledge of locally sourced materials from local experts and market vendors to develop a similar product. Suggested solutions were collected and used to create ultrasound gel accounting for cost, image quality, and manufacturing capability. Prototypes were tested in the field and the final product selected was cassava and bula at a 32 part water, 8 part flour and 4 part salt, heated, mixed, then cooled

Next Steps

Why use gel?  We are now prototyping a gel pad which is low cost, slides on water, antimicrobial, durable with good equivalent resolution & imaging.
Link to publication on HOW WE DID IT here
Link to the VALIDATION STUDY here
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