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From equitable access to equitable innovation: rethinking bioengineering for global health

What does global health equity mean? In bioengineering, ‘equity’ is often interpreted as global ‘access’ to technologies, thereby neglecting wider structural inequalities. Here we suggest that the concepts of equity need to be expanded to incorporate principles of equitable representation and recognition within the innovation ecosystem.

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Fig. 1: Workshop at Ashesi University organized by the Global Frugal Diagnostics Network.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge the participants at the Frugal Diagnostics Network workshop at Ashesi University in December 2023 for the conversations that informed this Comment, in particular co-organiser E. Rosca. This Comment was supported by funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement 715450) and the Royal Academy of Engineering through the Frontiers Champion award 2023.

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A.S., M.K.K. and Z.N. conceptualized the initial article. A.S. researched and wrote the first draft. M.K.K. and Z.N. researched, edited and wrote subsequent drafts.

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Correspondence to Alice Street.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Related links

Global Frugal Diagnostics Network: https://communities.springernature.com/posts/diagnostic-development-closer-to-home-the-1st-meet-and-greet-of-the-global-frugal-diagnostic-network

Incas Diagnostics: http://incasglobal.com

Local diagnostic (and pharmaceutical) manufacturing capacity: https://www.iej.org.za/localisation-of-medical-manufacturing-in-africa/

Rapid diagnostic test for Ebola: https://qz.com/africa/523703/a-ugandan-scientist-found-a-way-to-detect-ebola-in-five-minutes-but-couldnt-get-funding

Suggestions for how the innovation ecosystem can be restructured: https://speakingofmedicine.plos.org/2024/01/12/the-quest-for-africas-diagnostic-self-sufficiency/

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Street, A., Kersaudy Kerhoas, M. & Ndlovu, Z. From equitable access to equitable innovation: rethinking bioengineering for global health. Nat Rev Bioeng 2, 444–446 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44222-024-00182-5

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