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The U.S. government wants to provide health workers with better tools in their fight against ebola, and it’s crowdsourcing the Internet for help. The U.S. Agency for International Development is partnering with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Department of Defense to challenge innovators to construct a better contamination suit, one that protects against tropical heat and humidity as well as it does the virus.
LINE OF DEFENSE
“As the U.S. and the international community work to contain the worst Ebola epidemic on record, courageous men and women are performing critical tasks every day to save lives and prevent the spread of the virus,” writes USAID administrator Rajiv Shah announced at the Grand Challenges Annual Meeting in Seattle on Tuesday. “Personal protective equipment—the suits, masks and gloves the health care worker wears—is their primary protection, but it is also the greatest source of stress. In these hot and uncomfortable suits, health workers must administer to the patients and remove contaminated materials.”
Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development will award any “pioneering solution” it accepts from now till December with up to $1 million in cash.
Some suggestions the agency has offered include portable cooling technologies, integrated air-purifying respirators, suits with increased vapor permeability or breathability, and full-face cooling shields.
Shah says the federal government will partner with companies that can roll out the new suit within two months.
“Together with our international partners, we will translate the expertise and ingenuity of scientists, innovators, engineers, and students from across the globe into real solutions,” said Shah. “With your bold thinking and engagement, we can give health workers the tools they need to win this fight.”