March 30th, 2020

// Global health expert available to discuss COVID-19 threat to hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa

Global health expert available to discuss COVID-19 threat to hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa
Rice University bioengineer and US Science Envoy Rebecca Richards-Kortum can outline coronavirus preparations

HOUSTON – (March 30, 2020) – Rice University bioengineer and global health pioneer Rebecca Richards-Kortum is available to discuss how hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa are preparing to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Most hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa lack the resources to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients," said Richards-Kortum, director of the Rice 360º Institute for Global Health. "Ventilators are especially rare. In many countries, there are fewer ventilators than hospitals. Personal protective equipment is also scarce, and sources of oxygen such as oxygen concentrators or oxygen cylinders are often in short supply due to lack of spare parts and trained maintenance personnel."

Richards-Kortum, Rice's Malcolm Gillis University Professor, creates and implements medical technologies for communities that can least afford them. She has worked with African doctors, hospitals and health care officials for more than a decade and was selected by the State Department in 2018 as a U.S. Science Envoy for Health Security with a focus on expanding opportunities for U.S. collaboration in Africa.

Richards-Kortum is also a co-founder of NEST360°, an international collaboration that's working to slash newborn deaths in sub-Saharan hospitals by 50%. Launched in London last fall with $68 million in philanthropic support, NEST360°'s first phase is focused on Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria. Phase two will target Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Uganda, with the goal of catalyzing continentwide change in newborn hospital care.

To schedule an interview with Richards-Kortum, contact Jeff Falk, director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6775.


Image for download:
CAPTION: Rebecca Richards-Kortum (Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,962 undergraduates and 3,027 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is just under 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for lots of race/class interaction and No. 4 for quality of life by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.


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