Business

Smart Mama-Ope jacket to fight against pneumonia

KAMPALA, UGANDA: This "smart jacket" can diagnose pneumonia faster than a doctor, offering hope against a disease that kills more children worldwide than any other.

The idea came to Ms Olivia Koburongo, 26, after her grandmother fell ill and was moved from hospital to hospital before being properly diagnosed with pneumonia.

Ms Koburongo said: "It was too hard to keep track of her vitals, of how she was doing, and that was how I thought of a way to automate the process and keep track of her health."

She took her idea to fellow telecommunications engineering graduate Brian Turyabagye, 24, and together with a team of doctors, they came up with the Mama-Ope (Mother's Hope) kit made up of a biomedical smart jacket and a mobile phone application which does the diagnosis.

With the easy-to-use Mama-Ope kit, health workers merely have to slip the jacket onto the child, and its sensors will pick up sound patterns from the lungs, temperature and breathing rate.

Said Mr Turyabagye: "The processed information is sent to a mobile phone app (via Bluetooth) which analyses the information in comparison to known data to get an estimate of the strength of the disease."

The jacket, which is still only a prototype, can diagnose pneumonia up to three times faster than a doctor and reduces human error, according to studies done by its inventors.

Plans were underway to have the kit piloted in Uganda's referral hospitals and then trickle down to remote health centres.

The team is also working on patenting the kit, which is shortlisted for the 2017 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize. - AFP

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