Cardiff Met PhD student designs trauma packs for Zambia


A Cardiff Metropolitan University student has used her PhD studies to design an innovative  'trauma pack' to treat victims of road traffic accident victims in Zambia.

Clara Watkins, 26 from Bristol first developed an interest in culturally relevant design while studying on Cardiff Met's BSc Product Design course. Her final year project addressed issues surrounding culturally appropriate packaging of anti-malaria drugs to reduce mortality rates in Malawi.

On completion of her undergraduate degree in 2011, Clara received a Cardiff Met PhD scholarship which funded a collaboration between Cardiff School of Art and Design and Professor Judith Hall of Cardiff University's School of Medicine and Director of Welsh charity Mothers of Africa. The aim of Clara's PhD is the development of transformative, culturally appropriate medical solutions for rural Zambia, an aim identified by Professor Hall and since developed through the collaboration.

An in-depth contextual review in Zambia in the early stages of the PhD identified road traffic accidents (RTAs) as Zambia's biggest killer after Malaria and HIV/AIDS. 70% of those killed are 'breadwinners' between 19-44 years of age, meaning that the knock on effects are a major contributor to spiralling poverty among Zambian women and children.

Clara's PhD has seen the development of a comprehensive, low- cost, fit for purpose trauma pack suited for the roadside treatment of RTA injuries in Zambia. The components within the pack have been designed to ensure adherence to the World Health Organisation's (WHO) four A's: accessibility, availability, affordability and appropriateness. A critical facet of the design is that it is intended for manufacture in situ, using freely available local materials and low-tech manufacturing processes to keep costs low, ensure sustainability and give a second financial benefit to regions where it is employed.

Speaking about the project, Professor Hall said: "Clara's ethnographic research and product design skills have helped Mothers of Africa move closer to their goal of helping achieve UN Millennium Goals. The trauma packs are already proving useful, and we look forward to working further with the Cardiff Met team to develop them further for a range of countries and situations."

Cardiff Met has provided two years funding to enable Clara's employment as a Research Officer to develop and fully implement the project. She and the team are working on a small-scale community enterprise in Zambia capable of producing and distributing the pack. In addition, the team are currently in early talks with the Ministry of Defence about developing packs as part of a disaster relief package for other countries facing adversity.

Clara says: "After visiting Zambia and comprehending the sheer number of people affected by road accidents, the team knew the research had to be directed towards developing solutions that would reduce the frequently tragic effects.

It's great to be able to combine my studies with something I feel really passionately about and with my PhD ready for submission I am now working with Professor Hall and the Cardiff Met team on fully implementing the design, not only in Zambia but elsewhere in the world, including the UK."