The extent to which circular economy principles have been applied in the design of medical devices for low-resource settings in Sub-Saharan Africa. A systematic review

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Abstract

Healthcare facilities in low-resource settings in Sub-Saharan Africa are plagued
with issues of non-functional and obsolete medical devices, which ultimately
end up prematurely disposed of as waste. With increasing healthcare demands,
stopping medical device disposal is imperative. One way to achieve this is
to leverage circular economy principles in designing medical devices. Circular
economy principles aim to retain products and their constituent materials to
be reused over time in the economic system. However, to what extent this has
been applied in designing medical devices specifically for low-resource settings
in Sub-Saharan Africa is missing in literature. Based on a systematic review of
29 out of 1,799 screened scientific papers, we identified the use of circular
economy principles of durability, maintenance, repair, and upgrade in designing
medical devices for this setting. Whether these principles were intentionally
applied from a circular economy approach could not be inferred in this study.
The motivational basis for using these principles was to ensure medical device
longevity to providing healthcare. No attention was given to the circular economy
principles of refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling, ensuring that device
components and constituent materials are recovered. These study findings serve
as a launchpad for exploring how circular principles can be used to support
the design of medical devices for low-resource settings in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Academicians and designers of medical devices can leverage this research to
contribute towards developing medical devices that support access to healthcare
for people in low-resource settings and preserve earth’s finite resources
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Sustainability | Circular Economy
Volume4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • circular economy principles
  • medical device design
  • low-resource settings
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • product design

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