George Institute innovations receive global acclaim

SYDNEY, NOV 20 – A new Australian product designed to make kidney dialysis more broadly available at low cost has won first prize in a global health innovations competition.

The Affordable Dialysis System, developed by Sydney-based Ellen Medical, beat more than 500 entries from 22 countries to score top prize in the World Innovation Summit for Health 2020 Innovation Booster competition.

Millions of people die unnecessarily every year because they cannot access treatment for kidney failure. Ellen Medical was founded as a partnership between The George Institute for Global Health and inventor Vincent Garvey to help to make dialysis cheaper and more broadly available, particularly in developing countries.

Managing Director of Ellen Medical John Knight, a medical specialist in kidney diseases in children, said that with rates of kidney failure continuing to rise, new solutions were urgently needed.

“Dialysis has been a safe and effective treatment for kidney failure for over 60 years, but for every patient who gets this treatment, another three will die, because it is just too expensive,” he said.

“Most of the preventable deaths occur in the developing world.”

One of the biggest hurdles to accessing dialysis is lack of cheap, sterile water in places with an unreliable electricity supply and potentially contaminated water sources. Ellen Medical’s portable distiller transforms local potable water to medical grade sterile water which is used to prepare peritoneal dialysis bags at the point of care.

“Our system is not only much cheaper to deliver than standard peritoneal dialysis but also avoids the logistics costs and greenhouse gas burden of transporting thousands of bags of dialysis fluid to remote locations,” John added.

The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) meets every two years in Doha, sponsored by the Qatar Foundation, attracting more than 2000 participants from over 100 countries. Virtual presentation of a trophy and cash prize of US$10,000 was made at the WISH closing ceremony late on Thursday Sydney time.

“We’re really proud of this achievement as it represents important international recognition in a highly competitive environment,” said John. “We warmly thank our many generous supporters and our two key sponsors – the NSW Health Medical Devices Fund and the Paul Ramsay Foundation.”

Another George Institute innovation, SmartHealth, was one of the final 14 shortlisted products for the ‘Boosters’ prize.

SmartHealth is a clinical decision support system designed to deliver low-cost, evidence based primary healthcare.

Implemented and tested in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, and Thailand, it supports health workers with the technology and training to empower them to provide preventative care.

The WISH 2020 Innovation Booster competition attracts some of the world’s most exciting healthcare innovations, ranging from practical devices to business models to design-based solutions.

Each innovation being showcased at the event has the potential to help transform global health, whether reducing the costs of healthcare delivery or improving the quality of care for patients.

Ellen Medical and SmartHealth are both part of the George Health family of companies.

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