For many decades, the prevalence of maternal mortality in Africa has remained puzzling for policy makers especially in rural communities where access to affordable health care is unavailable. According to UN report, there are 546 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in sub-Sahara Africa, with over 200,000 maternal deaths recorded annually. To curb this rather disturbing trend, a start-up medical company in Uganda has introduced a low cost ultrasound system to work on mobile phones. MScan (Mobile Scan) is a team of medical experts who has devoted their expertise in building ultrasound mobile devices and software.
There has to be a way out of every social problem by looking inwards. In this case, smaller is always better.
Rather than having to move heavy, traditional ultrasound scanners, MScan allows clinical experts to scan and view images through a connected portable device in seconds.
Just recently, the team won a $25,000 equity-free grand prize, and the coveted title of “Africa’s Favorite Startup.” MScan develops portable mobile ultrasound devices (Ultrasonic probes) that are laptop, tablet and mobile phone compatible. The scalability potential to make many other medical access devices affordable for Africa delighted the judges. Of course, it does seem the money is flowing in right now, but the journey has been particularly crooked by the duo of Menyo Innocent,
Director and Co-Founder with training in Medical Radiography, “seeing scores of mothers die in communities with poor access to investigative clinical assessment motivated us to come up with a permanent solution to the problem.”
“From my elective rotations in Gulu district, there is limited access to ultrasound machines with many women getting complications that would have been ruled out from the scans, with the only machines serving the entire Gulu and three surrounding districts, resulting into excess load at the Radiology unit at the main hospitals in Gulu i.e. at St. Mary's Hospital Lacor and Gulu referral hospital. The limitation of personnel that use ultrasound scans is amass, through such innovation, it will be coupled with training of midwives hence increasing the access to ultrasound scans at the lowest level,” MScan team leader stated.
In Uganda, 19 mothers in 10,000 women die due to maternal complications. The m-SCAN shall be able to detect intra-uterine risk factors that would lead to death e.g. severe oligohydramnios, nuchal cords, cervical shortening, fetal congenital anomalies such as spina bifida. With these detected early enough, we shall plan for safe delivery and hence save many mothers.
After winning its first seed funding from UNFPA, MScan began an upward journey to international relevance due to the social impact of its innovation. Getting an ultrasound scan to pregnant mothers in Kisoro, Southeast of Uganda, a sloppy landscape, reinforced the desire to do something out of the box.
MSCAN team is convinced that extending lifesaving ultrasound services to the local people at a low cost. Like many places around Uganda, mSCAN will go a long way in saving the lives of pregnant mothers through early detection of risk factors of maternal mortality.