Protection of medical devices against harsh environments

Control units do not survive humidity and dust attacking

©Sylvain Liechti


Medical devices are generally designed for industrialized countries hospitals, in which the environment is controlled and air-conditioned. 

When these devices are used in the countries of the Global South, they are facing harsh environments: the temperature can reach 45°C, while the relative humidity can rise above 95%, furthermore the environment is generally very dusty. All these factors tend to accelerate the aging of the systems, and to increase the risk of failure.

In the spatial and military industries, solutions have been developed to protect systems against very extreme conditions. These solutions are however not adapted to the low and middle-income countries (LMICs), because they are too expensive.

70% of the medical devices in Africa designed for use in HICs (High Income Countries), don’t work when they reach the LMICs


The Project

The goal of this project is to find innovative solutions to protect the medical devices against the following factors:

  • High temperature: up to 45°C
  • High relative humidity: up to 100%
  • Water: falling water, cleaning water, condensation
  • Dust

The “tropicalisation” project’s challenge is to find protection solutions, passive and/or active, which are low-cost and robust.

The focus is set on the protection of electronic systems. Solutions are not only designed to protect the system in use, but also during transportation, storage, installation and maintenance.

The solutions should be as generic as possible, in order to be applied to the essential technologies, such as the “Global DiagnostiX” or “Global Neonat” projects.