Uganda students win for maternity innovation


Image: Team Cipher 256. By BiztechAfrica
Team Cipher 256

For the fifth year running, students from Makerere University in Uganda have won the Microsoft East and Southern Africa Imagine Cup competition.

This year’s winning team designed mobile phone software that can monitor foetal movements and heartbeats.

The team, Cipher 256, will go on to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals to be held in Sydney, Australia in July, 2012.

The team designed an application codenamed WinSenga that focuses on how to detect ectopic pregnancies in women as well as monitor baby movements and position in the womb during pregnancy. The team, comprising of Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello, and Josiah Kavuma was also voted the best by facebook and twitter users who were following the competition online.

In total, 14 teams from different universities participated in the finals held in Nairobi last weekend. The competition is aimed at inspiring the youth to use their imagination, creativity and technology to help solve the world’s toughest problem.

According to Aaron Tushabe, their application addresses the UN Millennium Development Goal 5 – Reducing Maternal Mortality by 2015. “Our inspiration to develop this application was drawn from prior visits to the Mulago Hospital Pediatric Ward. Mulago being a national referral hospital, has an ultrasound machine, but what about the midwives in the villages? They use a Pinard Horn but in some instances some might lack the adequate skills to appropriately interpret the sounds,” said Tushabe.

In this system, the Pinard Horn is connected it to a smart phone through an external microphone placed at the flat end of the Horn. The phone contains an application that has a sound recording module and sound analysis module which will produce a report detailing the position of the baby during the different trimesters, the age of the baby and the fetal heart rate.

This system, according to Tushabe gives a more accurate diagnosis compared to using only a Pinard Horn. “WinSenga is effective, faster and affordable and can even be used at home by a pregnant woman.”

WinSenga is being developed with the help of Dr. Davis Musinguzi from Mulago Hospital and a former finalist in the Project Inspire Africa session 1. The students are mentored by Joseph Kaizzi, a former CIT student and previous participant in Microsoft Imagine Cup competitions. More support is drawn from the Microsoft Innovation Center – Uganda.

By July, the application will be able to display cardiograph information and will also employ cloud technology to make the patients’ records more accessible by different medical practitioners.

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