Uganda’s MUK students invent a pregnancy scanner

Students at Uganda’s Makerere University (MUK) have invented a scan machine, called Winsenga, that can detect pregnancy complications.

The handheld machine, invented by second year students at the University’s College of Computing and Information technology (CIT), consists of a funnel-like pinnard horn, which resembles a device used by midwives to scan an expectant mother’s womb.

The device is handy as it enables the examiner to determine the age, weight, position and breathing pattern of the foetus. The machine later records the information automatically to be accessed later. It can also detect pregnancy complications including ectopic pregnancies or abnormal foetal heartbeats.

The pinnard-horn-like part of the machine is pressed against the abdomen of the expectant women. The data on the location and condition of the foetus afterwards displays on the smartphone connected to the horn.

Cipher 256, the team behind the innovation, also developed software that enables the smartphone receive and interpret the sounds.

Doctors and examiners have initially relied on foetal sounds transmitted through the pinnard horn to make a diagnosis based on the type and strength of the foetal sounds. Cipher 256 says the new invention will now upgrade the process.

The team said the idea was conceived following a visit to the antenatal department at Mulago Hospital, Kampala.

“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 Aoran Tushabe, one of the founders.

The team members, including Aaron Tushabe, Joshua Okello and Josiah Kavuma, say the project was carried out under guidance of Dr. Davis Musinguzi, UNICEF’s health systems consultant.

At $3,000 (USh7.3m), the team says the technology is cheaper and affordable compared to the ultrasound scan.

The innovation has since won the Microsoft East and Southern Africa Imagine Cup competition. the team is looking to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals to be held in Sydney, Australia in July, 2012.

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