Partnership aims to aid health problems in developing countries

InnovAid, a new student group based out of the Miller School of Medicine, is teaming up with other University of Miami organizations to tackle critical healthcare-related problems in the developing countries through innovation and technology.

“We want to combine the various entities at the university, [such as] CaneShare, the International Medicine Institute, Engineers Without Borders and the College of Engineering, to not only identify the issues facing clinical staffs in [those] countries, but also to develop unique, innovative prototypes and solutions,” said Sharon Wolfson, a second-year med student and co-founder of InnovAid.

Wolfson and co-founder Carlos Oliu, also a second-year medical student, realized this is not a task that they could do alone. So while they focus on the medical side, they are reaching out for help with ways to deliver medical supplies, medicines and immunizations to residents around the world.

“We can identify the clinical situations faced in low-income and low-infrastructure environments, but we need to work with engineering students to develop practical, workable solutions to [meeting] these challenges,” Oliu said.

They already have a basic concept of how they would like to run InnovAid. They will start by informing interested audiences of the medical needs and partnering with prospective companies and groups to fund their research.

In only its second semester of activity, InnovAid is planning three events this spring. They will start with holding informative lectures from medical professionals talking about those type of needs in third-world countries.

They also plan to host a hands-on  workshop to simulate the types of devices that would be used, and then discuss with engineers and others how to get the equipment there.

“We are thrilled to be working with such an amazing cause,” said Joshua Furtney, president of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Finally, they want to visit local medical industry facilities to see what technology is already being used.

Oliu stressed that while their role as medical students is to identify the issues, they want to involve anyone interested in helping people who don’t have the same access to quality medical care as those in the United States.

“We’re really trying to bring everyone into the fold because part of our goal here is to educate people on how to participate in this kind of a movement,” Oliu said. “It doesn’t have to be engineers coming up with ideas and doctors coming up with problems. The goal is creativity and bringing people together to approach problems that we can all break down and understand.”