Point-of-care Diagnostics & Global Health

Biomedical engineers have traditionally developed technologies in response to the needs of the developed world's medical community. As a result, the diagnostic systems on which they have worked have met the requirements of well-funded laboratories in highly regulated and quality-assessed environments. However, such approaches do not address the needs of the majority of the world's people afflicted with infectious diseases, who have, at best, access to poorly resourced health care facilities with almost no supporting clinical laboratory infrastructure. A major challenge for the biomedical engineering community is to develop diagnostic tests to meet the needs of these people, the majority of whom are in the developing world. We here review the context in which the diagnostics must operate, some of the appropriate diagnostic technologies already in distribution, and some emerging technologies that promise to address this challenge. However, there is much room for innovation, adaptation, and cost reduction before these technologies can impact health care in the developing world.

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