Microfluidic Diagnostics for Low-resource Settings: Improving Global Health without a Power Cord
The ability to diagnose a patient quickly and accurately is of paramount importance in the management of most diseases, as the appropriate treatment cannot be administered until the cause has been identified. In the developed world, hospitals and large clinics often employ sophisticated equipment and trained laboratory staff to enable an accurate diagnosis. Performing this sophisticated laboratory testing is not possible in many areas of the developing world that lack these resources and infrastructure, however, leaving patients untreated even when medication is available. The goal of this chapter is to provide the reader with an assessment of the need for and use of microfluidic diagnostics in low-resource settings, highlighting the successes of and opportunities for microfluidic diagnostics in global health. Included is a section emphasizing paper-based microfluidics, which we view as an important and rapidly growing component of the microfluidics field with significant potential to revolutionize diagnostic testing in low-resource settings. Most importantly, we aim to provide a useful context with which to think about the development of microfluidic diagnostics for global health applications.