African in­ven­tions sav­ing lives

IN­NO­VA­TION

CityPress - - Trend­ing - PHUM­LANI SITHEBE LANGA phum­lani.sithebe@city­press.co.za

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.

PHOTO: MALAR­I­A­JOUR­NAL.COM

THE MOS­QUITO LAND­ING BOX syn­thetic hu­man odour

A Nige­rian in­ven­tion lures mos­qui­toes to their death by emit­ting a

CRADLE­COUNT A new Nige­rian app

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