A group of Makerere University students have created an application that could save lives through early detection of pneumonia. The team presented the application in the 2014-2015 Big Ideas Contest organized by the University of California Berkeley. The device presented by the team was ranked second in the global health category making the Makerere team, the only African team to win.
Pneumonia is a disease that affects the lungs and affects the breathing of individuals. The device is a combination of a cell-phone and an app works by making a detailed analysis of a patient’s lung crackles to determine if they are similar to those of pneumonia. To perform his diagnosis, the device will use digitized audio recordings from the patient’s chest. Improvements to the prototype are set to allow for the addition of a modified stethoscope aimed at enhancing reading of the lung crackles.
The chest recordings are saved, sent and stored in digital formats to allow for later analysis. The cellphone-app combination is particular a big boon to the developing economies where access to healthcare facilities is still low. According to the World Health Organization, Pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old. In 2013, 935 000 children under the age of five died as a result of the disease.
The team that created the solution hopes to ride on the huge uptake of cell phones for the deployment and subsequent development of simple medical diagnosis tools.