Canadian Space Agency
Deep Space Healthcare ChallengeBack to all challenges
Supporting the healthcare needs of remote communities – both in space and on earth
Keeping astronauts healthy in space is a challenging problem, and as we move farther away from earth, it is going to get a lot more complicated.
The current healthcare system for astronauts is earth-reliant, with physicians on hand for real-time consults, resupply trips arriving regularly, and emergency evacuation an ever-present backup. On a trip to Mars however, these options all but disappear: there are limited options for resupply, there is no possibility of emergency returns, and communication with experts is limited by a delay of up to 40 minutes.
If humans are to go to Mars by 2030, we need to sort out how they can mitigate, identify, predict and manage medical conditions with limited or no support.
Though we may have ten years to solve this problem for astronauts, medically-isolated populations such as Canadians living in remote communities need these solutions now. Remote communities, medically-isolated groups, and those whom the pandemic has exposed as requiring care from a distance are all in need of support. These populations suffer from many of the same barriers seen in space, including communication delays and a lack of access to diagnostic tools or specialists. This contributes to inequities in the provision of care in Canada and poor outcomes for the populations affected. Often, thousands of Canadians need to leave their communities for extended periods to access care – sometimes very basic care at that.
If we can help to surface ideas and solutions that allow practitioners in remote settings to detect and diagnose medical conditions within their communities, we can impact the lives of Canadians today, while setting the stage for deep space missions in the future. Both communities lack access to the tools that allow them to detect and diagnose certain conditions within their communities, and would benefit from technological solutions designed specifically for their context.
The CSA has identified an opportunity to leverage Canadian expertise in space, technology and healthcare to allow astronauts and medically-isolated Canadians alike to be more self-reliant for their healthcare needs. That's where you come in!
Help us develop the Challenge!
Challenges take time to develop with precision and rigour, and we need to make sure we lay the right foundation, through research and engagement. As details of this challenge continue to be developed, we need your feedback to ensure that we get the right ideas from the right innovators. If you see yourself as someone with knowledge or experience in remote health care, are working on something that could help, or have ways to link solutions to people who need them, please submit your feedback through the form below.
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