African inventions saving lives
INFANT AND MOTHER MORTALITY
According to Unicef, “a woman’s chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth in Nigeria is one in 13”.
Now a young Nigerian woman is determined to reduce infant and maternal mortality in Africa.
Kesandu Nwokolo and her team have created CradleCount, a cellphone app aimed at reducing the dangers of giving birth to a child in areas where hospitals and clinics are too far to reach in time.
CradleCount helps pregnant women and doctors accurately calculate the expected date of delivery using the date of the last period before pregnancy in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
It also sends regular pregnancy health tips to expectant mothers, and can even work without an internet connection after the app has been downloaded from the Google Play store.
Another innovation making news in Nigeria targets the risks faced by African mothers in rural areas. Called LifeWrap, it was developed by a nurse, midwife and professor at the University of California, Suellen Miller.
Postpartum haemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality in rural regions. LifeWrap is a nonpneumatic antishock garment that acts as a first aid device to stabilise new mothers at risk of death.
This simple but clever technology keeps women alive while they travel to a hospital for surgery or await treatment for postpartum haemorrhage.
LifeWrap interrupts the bleeding process and allows the body time to clot.
Meanwhile, in Tanzania, significant advances continue to be made to combat the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria.
Researchers at the Ifakara Health Institute have developed the mosquito landing box, which uses human scents to attract and kill up to 60% of the mosquitoes in the areas where it has been tested.
The device cunningly simulates a synthetic human odour that attracts mosquitoes, which transmit malaria. The box emits a small dose of carbon dioxide, which is what we breathe out and is what attracts these insects. Once inside the box, the insects are infected with a deadly fungus, are electrocuted or doused with insecticide. The device is powered by solar panels. Similar advances are being made in Asia. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease, the incidence of which has increased drastically in the developing world in the past 50 years. Malaysia experienced an unprecedented outbreak of dengue last year, which killed more than 200 people. In Asia, the economic cost of the disease is estimated at billions of dollars a year.
Developed by researchers at the University of Malaya, the Eco-Greenergy outdoor lighting system consists of an LED street lamp that produces low levels of carbon dioxide to lure mosquitoes.
The mosquito trap takes advantage of the bug’s sensory abilities by tricking them with features that mimic human odours.
THE MOSQUITO LANDING BOX synthetic human odour
A Nigerian invention lures mosquitoes to their death by emitting a
CRADLECOUNT A new Nigerian app