Period Care for Lower Income Countries

Most women in low and middle-income countries use some derivative of pads made using a variety of local materials ranging from cotton, goat skin to cow feces. SURePAD is a hybrid derivative of pads that mainly resolves the major issue of women in LMICs struggling with the shame and hassle of carrying around pads which makes it hard to go through the process of discreetly replacing and cleaning up their periods.

Gates Foundation


The mechanism takes inspiration from the tissue box!


The friction between the overlapping tissues enable the second tissue to stick to the first tissue being pulled.

The flexible plastic top layer with the slit separates the second tissue upon pulling the first tissue with slight force.


Both collapsing ends adhere to form a conveniently disposable square.

Multiple thin pads overlapped and rolled up like tissue rolls. Segmented with adhesive at each end on the two collapsing ends of pads (area circled in orange). The pads are composed of 3 thin layers: top sheet, moisture proof middle layer and absorbent bottom layer.


The top sheet traps the non-liquid component of menstrual discharge (which is 65%), while the liquid component (35%) seeps through the dents in the middle layer and gets in contact with the absorbent bottom layer.

Silicone container with a slit in the middle.

Caps to contain a rolled-up portion of the pads.

The aforementioned 2 mm thin pad is composed of 3 thin layers: top sheet, moisture proof middle layer and absorbent bottom layer.

The top sheet must be able to trap the non-liquid component of menstrual discharge which makes synthetic fibers or cotton adequate variables, while the moisture-proof middle layer should be made out of a polymer or corn-based biodegradable plastic to provide the strength, while having opening dents (holes) to allow flow of liquid components into the bottom layer.


The absorbent bottom is made from vertical pillar arrays such as shown in the image above taken in our lab, which are inspired by the feathers of a desert bird called the sandgrouse, which can hold several times its weight in water while flying for tens of miles to feed its chicks in their nest.

Ian White @Flickr 

The artificial feathers are manufactured from absorbing cellulose using innovative molding into the proposed pillar-like geometry. The interface of the pad and container allows liquid trapping and replacement of used pads by pulling and cutting like a tissue box.

This idea was for the Grand Challenges Explorations of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. You can read about the challenge here.