Varsity Student’s Wireless Handheld Ultrasound to Help Reduce Infant Mortality Rate in Kenya


Two University students have invented a wireless handheld ultrasound that will help reduce infant mortality rate in Kenya. Kevin Koech, a Biomedical Engineering student at Kenyatta University and Shem, a Computer Science student from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) have come up with a product named Ultramum to be used by expectant mothers in marginalised areas and slums.

“We came up with ‘Ultramum’ to cater for pregnant women who are not able to access ultrasonography due to distant clinics and health centres”, Kevin Koech, the lead in the team explains.

According to the two students, the Wireless handheld ultrasound with a learning machine will help the expectant mothers check fetal status, gender or complications to prevent delayed treatment and get successful child delivery without necessarily physically visiting the clinics.

“Ultramum is a smart handheld Ultrasound presented as a mobile application for displaying scanned images of the fetus. It has machine learning equipment trained with different images hence not so much in need of personnel to analyse and interpret the images scanned”, Kevin adds.

According to the group, Ultramum is slightly different from the current ultrasound being used in hospitals, relatively cheap and is more efficient when used in Medical camps.

Kevin says the idea came out of a hackathon organised by Villgro Kenya and Gearbox themed #Okoamama. The single day event was meant to provide technological solutions to reduce maternal mortality rate in slums and marginalised areas.

“We pitched the idea at the hackathon but unfortunately we didn’t make it to the list of top three”, Kevin says before adding, “although we were a team of four, only two of us decided to take the dream a notch higher and come up with the product”.

The team would, later on, win the IEEE Symposium which took place at Strathmore University in January 2017. The team also participated in the innovate 4life Hackathon organised by Nailab, Takeda and Amref but did not emerge among the top three teams who walked home with US dollars 3000 each.

“We usually participate in hackathons in order to win and get financial support but it never worked as we thought”, Shem says.

The group now incubated at the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center got a chance to showcase at the NACOSTI 2017 Exhibition at KICC.

The Ultramum which according to the group will be much cheaper and easily accessible will in the initial stages be used by CHW (Community Health Workers) and obstetricians.

Kevin says that though they are in progress with the development of the Ultramum kit, they still need support in making the final product as efficient as possible in order to secure a chance to move to the next level.

“We would love to proceed to the Clinical Trials level but we need both financial and moral support from the general public”, Kevin concludes.

If it becomes a reality, Ultramum will help Kenya realise its vision 2030’s health pillar.

This Story was Published first in the Standard Newspaper.




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