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Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Africa's first StarStream heads to Navrongo in northern Ghana

Published: 12 March 2018
starstream in toilet

Africa’s first StarStream was first demonstrated at the Global-NAMRIP 2 Day conference in Accra, Ghana, located in a specially commandeered gent’s washroom in the hotel, near the conference hall. Groups of delegates then filed in an out to see cold water cleaning without soap.

Professor Tim Leighton, assisted by doctoral candidate Mengyang Zhu set up the demo easily, linking the device to the normal water supply. Despite its unusual location the demo was a big hit and all the delegates came to see it working.

The day after the conference, Professor Leighton, and Mengyang, flew to Navrongo in northern Ghana, 10km south of the border with Burkina Faso. They travelled with colleagues from the Navrongo Health Research Centre, George Wak and Thomas Andorigye, and were aiming to carry out more StarStream demonstrations.

However whilst the demonstrations were for StarStream cleaning, Professor Leighton’s mission was to pull together a team to test a different invention - StarHealer. Where StarStream cleans (e.g. surgical and dental instruments, healthcare surfaces), the new invention, StarHealer works in two stages: it first cleans wounds, and then promotes (with a single wash) rapid healing of the wound. Accelerated skin growth, for example, reduces the chance of infection, as the growing skin forms a barrier to hostile microbes.  


N Ghana

As the pictures show, once they arrived in Navrongo the demonstrations went ahead and a StarStream device was hooked up both to standpipes and again at the hospital, to a sink. Ultimately, the vision is to add StarHealer technology to the equipment that travelling nurses in rural Ghana carry on their motorbikes so they can make a difference to newborn mortality rates in rural areas. Community nurses have been equipped to ride motorbikes into remote rural areas as part of the Ghana Heath Service’s Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) programme, which is a national strategy to deliver essential community-based health services. It focuses primarily on communities in deprived sub-districts and on bringing health services close to these communities. 


well and water tank

The trip was designed to scope out what the challenges are. Professor Leighton found that there are crucial things he must design StarHealer to /overcome. At a maternity ward for example, the team was not able to get water into the Starstream device because the water tank (see image) was empty. It is normally kept full by pumping water from the well in the foreground (see sign). So for the idea of StarHealer on motorbikes to work, the nurses would need to carry their own water, or run StarHealer on bottled water or water sachets.

instrument cleaning

Another issue they identified is power supply. Power cuts in rural areas are sudden and fairly frequent. It became apparent that there is a need to cut StarHealer’s power use from 100W to 10W so there is a need to address this by use of batteries.

As can be seen from the image (right) the water problem was eventually solved and StarStream was able to get to work, cleaning instruments.

Listen to Professor Leighton talk about his research trip to Navrongo, live from Ghana on BBC Radio Solent (click on video below).




This project grew out of a travel grant, funded by Department for International Development - GOV.UK (DFID) (PI: Prof Leighton; Co-I: Dr Jim Wright), which enabled George Wak to travel to the UK under the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship Scheme, to visit NAMRIP for 3 months in 2017. During that visit the plans were laid for this collaboration. The current trip was funded by the University of Southampton’s EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship (GCRF 2017) award.

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