According to the World Health Organization (WHO), pneumonia accounts for 16% of all deaths of children under the age of 5, killing 920,136 children in 2015. Clearly, this is an epidemic that needs to be solved, and one Ugandan engineer, Brian Turyabagye has a solution for this.

Brian, together with his team which comprises of, Olivia Koburongo (project manager), Besufekad Shifferaw (lead technical developer), Dr. Rodney Sekate (medical consultant) and Angella Namwase (medical researcher) have developed a smart jacket, named MamaOpe. The smart jacket is designed to diagnose pneumonia, four times faster than a health practitioner would and with improved accuracy.

Using sensors, the jacket listens to body reactions at particular points of interest, such as the lung crepitations and wheezes, measures the breathing rate, then processes and analyses this information to give a deduction. The jacket then computes the results and sends the results to a mobile app using bluetooth connection. The app then gives a conclusive result to the user.

“OUR VISION is to cut pneumonia death rates in Africa by 50%”

Brian Turyabagye (centre), Olivia Koburongo (left) and Besufekad Shifferaw (right)

The kit is still under testing as they await certification. The team’s main challenge is the lack of raw materials, in Uganda, required to develop the jacket, thus slowing down their speed of execution. Brian says that the vision of MamaOpe, is to cut pneumonia death rates in Africa by 50%. They are looking to partner with health authorities and NGOs, direct sales of the jacket to private clinics, hospitals and families as their revenue model.

The MamaOpe kit is a promise for a healthier African child, and our hope is that Brian and his team will overcome their challenges and expand their reach beyond Africa, soon.

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