Initiative on locally manufactured sustainable toothbrushes in Madagascar

In cooperation with Planet Action e.V. and the Deutsch-Madagassischer Verein Esslingen e.V. (DMVE), MedTech One World Students e.V. (MTOWS) is working on establishing a production of sustainable bamboo toothbrushes in Madagascar.

The project shall provide the local population with toothbrushes – a fundamental part of primary dental healthcare – and furthermore provide sustainable work and income for the local participants of the project. The toothbrushes will be distributed and used by volunteer physicians of Planet Action e.V., which travel to Madagascar several times a year to provide free dental health care service to the local population. Instead of buying conventional plastic toothbrushes from global companies outside of Madagascar it is the aim to use locally produced bamboo toothbrushes in the future.

Meeting of the LiTUM team with Planet Action e.V. and the Deutsch-Madagassischer Verein Esslingen e.V.
First personal meeting of all three project partners at the Technical University of Munich in June 2020. Standing, from left to right: Klaus Meyer and Dorothee Schäfer (DMVE e.V.), Fabian Jodeit, Prof. Petra Mela, Martin Bachl, Baturay Yalvaç, Dario Arcuti, Nils Kraschienski (MTOWS e.V.). Sitting: Felix Geidel (Planet Action e.V.).

The alliance of the three non-profit associations is aimed at forming a partnership in which each project partner can contribute according to his field of expertise. Planet Action e.V., represented by Felix Geidel, is the initiator of the project and takes care of organizational and coordinative issues like financing as well as the medical side of the project. DMVE e.V., represented by Dorothee Schäfer and Klaus Meyer, supports with a broad network of contacts and production partners in Madagascar and years of experience in the Madagascan environment. MTOWS e.V., represented by Fabian Jodeit and active students, support the project from the medical engineering point of view, covering the technical aspects of the project like the design of the toothbrush and the manufacturing in Madagascar.

Several online meetings have been held during the time of the Corona pandemic in order to launch the project, decide on the nature of cooperation and agree on a framework. In June 2020, the first personal meeting between the members of the three participating associations took place at the chair of Medical Materials and Implants (MMI) of the Technical University of Munich. A picture of the participants of this kick-off meeting for the Madagascar Toothbrush Project can be seen above.

For MTOWS, the next steps of this project will be the procurement of raw materials and the design of a toothbrush prototype to verify its general function. For the later production of the toothbrush in Madagascar, the feasibility of production in an environment with reduced access to tools and electricity has to be taken into account. Furthermore, a business case for local production must be developed. Questions like “Who actually manufactures the toothbrushes?”, “Where do we get the machines from?”, “Will the workers work on a self-employed or dependent base?”, “Is the production limited time- or location-wise?”, etc. have to be answered.

Four students from MTOWS e.V. have committed to work on this project jointly. The necessary steps and operational framework were identified in online team meetings and then split into four major work packages which were allotted as follows:

  • Nils Kraschienski takes care of the procurement of the fiber material (bristles) used for brush production.
  • Dario Arcuti takes care of the procurement of the bamboo raw material used for toothbrush corpus production.
  • Martin Bachl is in charge of the prototype design and verification of production feasibility.

Batturay Yalvaç oversees the elaboration of a business plan with detailed responsibilities and business cases in Madagascar.

The project is scheduled for a rough duration of two years. If the Corona situation allows, it is the aim to travel to Madagascar in Q2 2021 in order to implement the production on-site and overcome potential problems with beginning manufacturing. Let us hope we can reach our goal in time and make this work together!

Author: Nils Kraschienski