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April’s show focuses on a topic that has become literally inescapable as of late, a constant fixture in our lives, the pandemic. We turned to Dr. Tarek Loubani and his colleague Reidun Garapick for a discussion on what can be done now to make a difference.
Dr. Loubani’s expertise comes from his work as an emergency care doctor. But he’s also Medical Director for the Glia Project, a charity that focuses on producing low-resource and low-cost medical devices, having learned from its operation in the Gaza Strip. We talk to him and Garapick about the reusable face shield that they have developed for use in hospitals. And at the present moment, how they transferred these experiences and resources to help medical workers in Canada.
Sustainable protection through reuse
Face shields are just one of the necessary pieces of equipment needed by healthcare workers. We discuss the lack of personal protective equipment and how this can be solved in a rapid and sustainable way. Those doing the most critical work caring for patients with Covid-19 must feel safe in their ability to do their jobs in such a high-risk environment. While the media focus is on the “lack” of supplies, Dr. Loubani and Garapick are steadfast in the belief that this could be solved via reusable equipment and procedures for reuse. We discuss why many are so resistant to this.
Will corporations change their approach?
Garapick also highlights the need for open-source designs of medical equipment and access to free repair information more than ever. Now is a time where innovation could save lives. We discuss how the barriers to this could be broken down to help those who are working to repair high-demand, essential devices such as ventilators. Major companies such as Tesla, as well as open source initiatives, are working towards producing medical devices and we discuss how useful this really is.
Beyond the pandemic
Both medical professionals make it clear that reusable and repairable medical equipment is the way forward, not just a strategy for dealing with this pandemic. Loubani warns us of the possibility of a reversal of sustainability-led thinking once the crisis is over, which is a recurrent theme. This is also a call to arms for all repairers, makers, and activists: your skills are essential and can be utilised in ways that can save people’s lives. We must push for essential changes to the system that will live on beyond the pandemic.