| 101 Technologies - From the South for the South |
Monitoring children's growth is generally accepted as one practical way to assess their general health and nutrition. Children who are seen to have poor growth can be targeted by health workers for special attention. In developing countries, community-based child-weighing programs are an integral part of community health strategies. A variety of weighing scales is used, from simple spring scales and locally made balances to heavy-duty hospital balances. However, most of these devices lack one or several important characteristics such as low cost, ease of use, portability, high accuracy, and durability.
In response to the need for an appropriate scale for field use, Sensor International Inc., - a joint venture between the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) and Masstech Inc., an Australian corporation - has developed the electronic Sensor Scale. An earlier prototype scale, called PATHweigh, was a battery-operated hanging scale developed by PATH and field-tested in Bangladesh and Indonesia in 1985. The new version, the Sensor Scale, is a solar-powered electronic scale that provides a digital display of the weight in 100-gram increments. It was developed in a stand-on version and a hanging version. Prototypes of the stand-on Sensor Scale were field-tested in 1989 by UNICEF in ten countries. The trials showed the scales to be easy to use and widely acceptable to health workers.
The prototype electronic Sensor Scale has the following features:
· It is compact and lightweight;
· It provides an easy-to-read digital display;
· The hanging scale can weigh up to 45 kg (children up to 5 years);
· It is accurate within 100 grams;
· It reduces operator error by automatically taking into account the weight of the person or container holding the child;
· The scale offsets errors due to the child's movements by averaging weights and providing one final reading;
· It displays the weight in 100-gram increments, making reading and recording the weights easier;
· The scale is solar-powered;
· It can operate at high temperatures and humidity levels;
· It is durable; and
· It will shut off automatically after 5-10 minutes, if not in use.
Primary health care workers in rural areas (the scale is very portable) and health clinics.
Cost and availability
Public-sector developing country rights are held by UNICEF. Large-scale production of the stand-on version is proceeding, and it is expected that the scales will be available in mid-1993 through the UNICEF Copenhagen warehouse. A rough estimate of the price is US $95.
Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) 4 Nickerson St, Seattle, Washington, USA 98109-1699 Tel.: (206) 285-3500; Fax: (206) 285-6619 Telex: 4740019 PATH UI; Cable: PATH
PATH can also be contacted at the following addresses:
37 Petchburi 15 (Soi Somprasong 3) Petchburi Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand Tel.: (662) 251-7338-9; Fax: (662) 253-9171 Telex: 788 20327 PRPRTY TH
PO Box 57046, Ole Odume Road, #30, Nairobi, Kenya Tel.: (2542) 566714; Fax: (2642) 566714
Tifa Building 11th Floor, Suite 1102 Jl. Kuningan Barat No.26, Jakarta, Indonesia Tel.: (6221) 5200737; Fax: (6221) 520-0621 Telex: 79662851 TIFA IA