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Compact medical supplies
August 14, 2014 11:19 PM   Subscribe

For reasons too bizarre to go into, to get into a particular country a friend of mine needs to turn up at customs with 12 pounds of medical supplies. She's trying to minimize the volume and cost while at the same time making sure the supplies will be useful in a third world country. From a size/weight/cost standpoint batteries are the best we've been able to come up with, but we're not sure they'll be acceptable. Any suggestions for things that are definitely medical supplies and fit the bill would be very welcome.
posted by Tell Me No Lies to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Uv bottle sterilizers for maternity wards?
posted by spunweb at 11:32 PM on August 14


Iodine? Prenatal vitamins in bulk, but I don't think those'll be heavy enough without packaging. Does she have somewhere to deliver these to or was she going to just drop them off at a random clinic? Cause nowhere non-sketchy is going to take random medicines. Disposable diapers in bulk, hand sanitizer in bulk?
posted by viggorlijah at 12:00 AM on August 15


Lead is pretty dense stuff. Heart defibrillators with batteries that use lead-acid chemistry (or just those types of batteries, specifically for AED machines) would perhaps give you among the highest weight-to-volume ratios for medical supplies. Another idea perhaps is to saw an ingot of surgical-grade stainless steel into pieces that can be more easily packaged and carried through customs. No idea whether either would meet your cost criteria, though.
posted by Mr. Six at 12:07 AM on August 15


Portable oxygen bottle?
posted by anonymisc at 12:47 AM on August 15


12 lbs is not a lot. And without knowing what they have, it is difficult to say what would be most useful. Maybe a portable difibrolater.
posted by k8t at 12:55 AM on August 15


If batteries for a defibrillator (great idea!) don't qualify, then try laryngoscopes - fancy L-shaped flashlights for looking at the opening of the windpipe. They're metal cylinders with detachable blades. Compact and heavy, especially when the batteries are inside.

If cost is also a factor, what about bottles of Betadyne scrub or large jars of aspirin? Not as dense as metal surgical instruments but a lot cheaper.

Maybe a couple copies of the Physician's Desk Reference? That'd be enough to give you a hernia.
posted by wjm at 1:17 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Portable oxygen bottle?

Airlines will only let you take a small oxygen bottle with you for your use on the flight and only if you can prove you need it.
posted by atrazine at 1:18 AM on August 15


Vitamins work decently well from a straight up density perspective, especially if you shop around for packable large bottles. While not as dense as batteries, they are definitively medical in character.
posted by zachlipton at 1:23 AM on August 15


Multiple copies of Where There Is No Doctor, especially a local translation.
posted by viggorlijah at 1:43 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Bottles of sterile water/ saline. Heavy, cheap and definitely a useful medical supply. I think Tylenol and aspirin may be more useful than vitamins. Gauze and tape are not heavy, but useful.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 4:15 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Also: bacitracin would be good.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 4:16 AM on August 15


Sterile water in 1L bags. 6 or 7 should get you over 12lbs. (1L of water weighs ~1kg and 1kg = 2.2lb).
posted by Rock Steady at 6:21 AM on August 15 [2 favorites]


Building on the above: IV solution.

Dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting are deadly in third world countries. Getting hooked up to an IV can save lives for common ailments that are usually not deadly in developed countries but can be in third world countries because of lack of access to IV re-hydration.
posted by Michele in California at 10:07 AM on August 15 [1 favorite]


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