THE latest in the line of personal hygiene products, LifeSavers Wipes, is a set of wipes that can indicate to its user if there are any irregularities in their urine.
The specially formulated sheets have the capacity to change colour if they come in contact with abnormal levels of glucose in the urine, thus indicating to the user that medical attention is needed.
The product created in Jamaica by Georgia Crawford Williams and scientists Dr Peter Nelson and Shannon DaCosta has been nominated among the top-three global innovations of 2019-2021 in the International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA). The top innovation award is to be presented to the winner at this year's staging of the IDEA conference to be held at the Miami Beach Convention Centre in the US on March 31.
Team lead and conceptualiser of the product Crawford Williams told Your Health Your Wealth that being close to particular case where diabetes caused a lady she knew well to lose her sight, because she did not have the resources to carry out the necessary monitoring, placed the plight of people in a similar situation on her heart.
“Over 14 per cent of Jamaica's population has diabetes,” Crawford explained, “and constant monitoring of glucose levels is essential to controlling the disease and living healthy lives.”
However, while monitoring devices are quite common in First World countries, the vast majority of those affected in the Third World including Jamaica do not monitor. The consequence according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is that 1.6 million diabetics die each year and many, many more develop other debilitating conditions such as blindness and loss of limbs. In fact, while premature mortality has been decreasing for the other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), it has been increasing for diabetics.
Crawford added that her aim was to ensure that an easier, more convenient and affordable way is available for people to be able to tell if they need to seek medical attention before their situation becomes critical.
Further, pregnant women are at high risk of developing gestational diabetes and would greatly benefit from the availability of LifeSavers wipes.
How exactly does it work? According to Crawford, each wipe comes embedded with a totally safe solution that has been through several tests to ensure it is mild on the user. After passing urine, the user will proceed to wipe the genital area as is customary. The urine deposited on the wipe will react with the solution to determine if there are any abnormal levels of glucose present between 45-90 seconds after use.
Additionally, while its launch product was more of a diabetic wipe, LifeSavers, in seeking to further expand its offering, said it would in short order roll out other wipes which could detect pregnancy and urinary tract infection (UTI). The company over the longer term has it eyes set on having all toilet papers being able to indicate to users the presence of other abnormalities.