Cellphones fighting cervical cancer in Tanzania

A group of Tanzanian and Canadian health innovators have created a mobile technology used for the screening of cervical cancer.

Now in use in rural Tanzania and said to be capable of reducing deaths from cervical cancer, the innovation uses a smartphone to take photos of the cervix which are then  relayed to medical experts via SMS for proper examination and diagnosis of possible cancer cells.

Teams of two trained but non-physician health workers, equipped with cervical screening and treatment tools, and a smartphone used to take a photograph of the cervix, are afterwards sent to examine the women living remotely from health centres.

“That’s the beauty of it. For early grade cancers, those will be able to be treated right in the field, right in the rural area,” Dr Karen Yeates, of Queen’s University, Ontario, the principal investigator of The Kilimanjaro Cervical Screening Project, told CNN.

World Health Organization (WHO) puts the figures of deaths that occurred from cervical cancer in 2008 at 275,000 with 70 percent of the deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.

According to WHO, the the acute shortage of medical experts and a lack of quality screening services, especially in rural areas, is the main problem facing cancer treatment, leading to 80 percent of cancer cases being detected in late stages.

Dr. Yeates is among the 68 innovators to have received US$100,000 Canadian grants, courtesy of the innovation, to pursue bold concepts for tackling health issues in developing countries.

Grand Challenges Canada, a group sponsoring breakthrough concepts to improve health in poor parts of the world, is behind the grants. To date, some US$7 million has been awarded to 51 innovators in 18 low and middle-income countries, 38 of which will be implemented in Africa.

Posted in: Mobile

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