Second-year students at the Makerere University College of Computing and Information Technology (CIT), in Uganda, invent a hand-held pregnancy scan-like machine called WinSenga.
The machine, which consists of a funnel-like pinnard horn similar to the one used by midwives, can be used to scan a pregnant woman’s womb or detect problems such as ectopic pregnancy or abnormal foetal heart beats.
“We called it WinSenga to relate to traditional birth attendants,” the team said.
The students- Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello and Josiah Kavuma, said the project was carried out under the tutelage of Dr. Davis Musinguzi, who works with UNICEF as a health systems consultant. The team also call themselves Cipher256.
The pinnard horn part of the machine while connected to a smart phone is pressed against the abdomen of the pregnant woman. The smart phone screen then displays data on the location and condition of the foetus.
The invention of this technology comes in handy as statistics has it that about 16 Ugandan women die as a result of pregnancy complications.
The idea to create WinSenga came after the group visited the antenatal department at Mulago Hospital and watched mothers and children suffer. Their technology is based on the traditional pinnard horn. “We are not trying to re-invent the wheel, but to use technology to prevent unnecessary deaths,” says Tushabe the leader of the team.
Generally, midwives and Gynecologists listen to foetal sounds through the pinnard horn and make a diagnosis basing on the type and strength of the foetal sounds they get but the IT students have upgraded the process by designing a software that enables the smart phone receive and interpret the sounds.
“When you go to our hospitals, you find the midwife using the traditional pinnard to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. But they might not always hear anything or get enough details about the baby. We thought we could aid doctors to give the best services.”
The device allows the examiner to determine the age, weight, position and breathing pattern of the foetus. This will give the examiner a clue on what treatment to give.
With this device, you can know how old the foetus is, whether it is underweight, its position and breathing pattern. Then decide on what precaution to take or the treatment to give,” said Tushabe. “You can access the information anytime you log on because once you are done with diagnosis, it records automatically,” he added.
“At $3,000 (sh7.3m) it is cheaper and affordable compared to the ultrasound scan.”
The team were distinguished for their innovation at the East and Southern Africa Microsoft Imagine Cup competitions. The competition is a global competition aimed at encouraging students to use imagination, creativity, passion and technology to create solutions to real life problems.