JAN 23, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT
KAMPALA (Uganda) • A team of Ugandan engineers has invented a "smart jacket" that can diagnose pneumonia faster than a doctor, offering hope against a disease that kills more children worldwide than any other.
Dubbed Mama-Ope or Mother's Hope, the kit consists of a biomedical smart jacket and a mobile phone application that does the diagnosis. 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 by its inventors.
Each year, pneumonia - a severe lung infection - kills up to 24,000 Ugandan children under the age of five, many of whom are misdiagnosed as having malaria, according to United Nations children's agency Unicef.
A lack of access to laboratory testing and infrastructure in poor communities means health workers often have to rely on simple clinical examinations to make a diagnosis.
With the easy-to-use Mama-Ope kit, health workers merely slip the jacket onto the child, and wait while its sensors pick up sound patterns from the lungs, as well as the child's body temperature and breathing rate.