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Participants in the µMed-A workshop including Prof. Jens Ducree, center.



Low‐cost and reliable diagnostic tests are urgently needed in the developing world, where infectious diseases are an ever increasing burden. From September 7 – 11, 2011 the first International Workshop on Microsystems Technologies for African Health took place in South Africa. This unique workshop combined the knowledge of leading scientists from quite diverse disciplines.

During the workshop, there were presentations by micro‐engineers, chemists, physicists and biochemists focused on microsystems devices, microfluidics and Lab‐on‐a‐chip technology suitable for diagnostics in underdeveloped regions. Many competing technologies were described that could all be, or have been, applied to HIV/AIDS, TB or Malaria testing. Many of the devices presented could be tied to a cell phone – an ideal platform for use in regions where medical and transport infrastructure is missing.

BDI's microfluidic expert Prof. Jens Ducree co‐hosted the event and presented on his BDI research programme which involves the development of microfluidic devices for addressing the grand challenges of global diagnostics.

After the workshop, a tentative promise for research funding was made, pending approval of a local project in South Africa by the Gates Foundation, who strongly supports projects targeting Africa's health problems. In addition, it was decided to repeat the workshop in 2012, possibly in Malawi or another African country.

More information on the workshop can be found here: