What he did: Mr. Gómez-Márquez, program director for the Innovations in International Health Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, created the Medical Devices and Invention Kit, which gives doctors in developing countries a cheap collection of parts that, when assembled, can deliver medication or be used as devices to diagnose illnesses.
Why he did it: Much of the developing world uses secondhand medical equipment. Such donated tools, which were built for temperature-controlled hospitals, often break down and sit idle when they are used in harsher environments.
How it came about: To work around the problems related to working with donated equipment, many doctors had been “hacking” tools that would work under adverse conditions. Mr. Gómez-Márquez’s kit makes it easier for doctors to adapt equipment and changes the perception that these tools are unsafe.
What he accomplished: The kit is designed to be intuitive so doctors can figure out what parts fit together, but not so cookie-cutter that it stifles innovation. So far, the kits have been put to use at three sites in Nicaragua, and Mr. Gómez-Márquez hopes to test them in American urban centers.
Give people who will use a solution lots of room to shape technology to their needs. “When they start solving it on their own, it becomes a much more sustainable solution,” Mr. Gómez-Márquez says, “instead of assuming you’re the only smart guy in the room.”
Technology for Good
This profile is part of a series about the 10 winners of the 2012 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. Select other profiles from the menu below.