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Project Dose: How a Simple Design Can Save Kids' Lives

Drugs formulated specifically for children can be prohibitively expensive in developing countries, so doctors often instruct mothers to split...

Drugs formulated specifically for children can be prohibitively expensive in developing countries, so doctors often instruct mothers to split adult tablets into smaller portions when treating their children. Cutting tablets precisely into even portions, however, is very difficult, and children suffering from diseases like malaria often receive too much or too little of the life-saving medicine.

Project Dose grew out of addressing this serious health risk affecting millions of children impacted by improper dosing of medicines in resource-strapped hospitals. With funding from an Ideas that Matter grant from Sappi Fine Paper North America, Bao Design Lab has been able to produce high-fidelity prototypes of the prescription system in collaboration with our Ugandan partner, Technology for Tomorrow.

Project Dose kits provide a simple and unique system that gives parents the tools to safely and reliably re-package adult tablets into smaller doses for children. Designed to empower health care professionals, the kits use paper as a key element and include a metal crusher used to pulverize adult tablets, a plastic scraper to draw powder over pre-formed holes, and paper dividers with an adhesive flap used to re-package correct amounts of crushed medication.

The choice to use paper in creating the kit stemmed from the realization that a disposable solution was necessary to promote sterility and reduce the risk of cross-contamination in resource-strapped environments where everything is reused. We knew that if we decided to design a reusable tablet divider, the risk was high that it would not be properly cleaned in between uses, thus resulting in cross-contamination of medicines. Paper is also a sustainable material that can be recycled—a practice being perfected by Technology for Tomorrow.

Female entrepreneurs often run educational seminars at hospitals aimed at educating mothers about how to give their children the correct dosages of medication. As a part of the Project Dose kits, a vinyl teaching aid is included to instruct female entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will demonstrate how to use the Dose kits, and will assist mothers in packaging their own child's medication properly. This strategy of empowering women is tailored to health care environments where staff is stretched too thin and mothers are often called upon to participate in their child's treatment.

In order to scale the project, Bao Design Lab and Technology for Tomorrow are seeking to develop a molded fiber packaging operation in Uganda that would produce the paper tablet dividers as well as other paper products made of recycled paper. There is currently no other viable solution for resource-poor hospitals that offer this.


Have your own idea for a nonprofit design project? Apply for funding from Sappi's Ideas that Matter program.

Images courtesy of Bao Design Lab

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