Ugandan graduate develops smart jacket that detects pneumonia

Ugandan graduate develops smart jacket that detects pneumonia
Ugandan graduate develops smart jacket that detects pneumonia. Photo by Brett Eloff/The Royal Academy of Engineering

A Ugandan graduate Brian Turyabagye has designed a biomedical “smart Jacket” to quickly and accurately diagnose pneumonia.

The “Mamaope’’ or “mother’s hope” jacket distinguishes pneumonia’s symptoms- temperature, breathing rate and sound of the lungs and is three to four times faster than a doctor, eliminating most human error.

“Mamaope” was named so in reference to the 27,000 children who die of pneumonia in Uganda every year.

How the “Mamaope” came about

When Turyabagye was studying engineering, his friend’s mother fell seriously ill. Accompanying her to hospital, he watched as doctors diagnosed malaria and prescribing various treatments accordingly. Only as she lay dying did they realise their initial diagnosis was wrong. It was pneumonia that was killing her, the Guardian reports

Shocked by the circumstances surrounding the death, he began researching ways for diagnosing pneumonia and its treatments. The 24-year old discovered that pneumonia affects far more children than adults.

According to Unicef, pneumonia kills half a million children under five in sub-Saharan Africa every year, with the region accounting for half of all global deaths from pneumonia of children under five.

How it works

A modified stethoscope is put in a vest. It is linked to a mobile phone app which records the audio of the patient’s chest. Analysis of that audio can detect lung crackles, and can lead to preliminary diagnoses, BBC reports

Turyabagye said that most of the deaths are due to misdiagnosis, stating that in villages and remote areas children fall sick and are treated for malaria instead of pneumonia since the signs are similar.

Turyabagye began designing a biomedical smart jacket that would distinguish pneumonia’s symptoms and eliminate most human error.

Currently a prototype, the Mamaope jacket will undergo an official national medical examination in January. Certification for use in health centres and hospitals is expected by spring.


Source: The Guardian, UNICEF, New Vision

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