Using what's available

Innovation can mean finding high-tech solutions. But not always.

The use of local materials is indeed an important lesson for all the local medical staff, aside from resolving the little problem of height. In a resource-strapped environment, the difficulty of sending advanced equipment and materials to address local needs is that when the humanitarian organization leaves, the supply will probably be cut. Enabling the local staff to rely on themselves is the most ideal and sustainable way to ensure the running of all kinds of work in a place with very limited resources.

 The improvised ostomy bag.   

The improvised ostomy bag.


Sometimes you really need to twist your brain to find the right local materials for different situations. DIY-ing colostomy bags that collect patients’ excreta was one of the most unforgettable experiences. After brainstorming, Rodel, our ward nurse from the Philippines came up with a brilliant idea of a DIY ostomy bag - connect a surgical glove with the sterilized lid of a jar of coffee powder. Then, tie it on the patient and make sure the glove gets changed every day. This could avoid leakage that previously happened when we simply used adhesive tape to stick the “colostomy bag” glove onto the patients’ stoma (the opening in the abdomen where excreta is removed).

But then we received a baby who was only four days old and his stoma was as small as a quarter. The lid of the coffee jar was way too big for him. We eventually used a lid from a glue stick instead and connected it with a condom and a surgical glove. And that was the “colostomy bag for babies”. Do not look down on these little tricks. The local medical staff then know how to make their own colostomy bag to cope with urgent needs even there is no way to get the real ones. This takes us one step closer to achieving the objectives of our project