Losing 11 million children exposed to the dangers of Pneumonia will be a great loss to the entire world, thus with this latest development, it is very imperative to create awareness and educate the public so they can take precautions. The latest revelation came from John Hopkins University and Save the Children as the world commemorated the 2018 World Pneumonia Day on November 12. The same report has revealed that over 4 million of the anticipated deaths can be avoided if greater awareness on vaccination, treatment and proper nutrition is administered to the vulnerable. Countries like Nigeria, Pakistan, India and the DR Congo may record the highest number of deaths in 2030 if nothing is done to contain the health menace, according to Save the Children.
WHAT IS PNEUMONIA?
Pneumonia is a health condition or an infection that affects mostly the lungs of an individual. It either attacks one or both Lungs. Caused primarily by bacteria (Streptococcus), pneumonia can be mild but becomes life threatening with an upsurge in the condition. This type of disease is very prevalent among toddlers and ageing people of over 65 years of age. In fact, this class of people are very vulnerable and at risk of contracting the disease. Unlike in developed nations like the US where the phenomenon is common among older people; it is very rampant among children in most African nations including the DR Congo, Nigeria. Statistics compiled by Save the Children have revealed that in 2016 alone, over eight hundred and eighty thousands (880,000) children below the age of two died from Pneumonia.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF PNEUMONIA
Like any other illnesses or diseases, Pneumonia also has visible signs and symptoms. Some of these symptoms are:
-Painful cough that sometimes produces mucus
- Difficulty in breathing or short breath
- Severe pains in the chest
- High temperature or fever
With this assertion that prevention is better than cure, Pneumonia can be averted at an early stage be it bacteria or viral Pneumonia. The most suitable way of preventing the disease is by getting the right vaccination. However, proper hygiene, good eating habit, and avoidance of smoking can also curb the rate of pneumonia.
LOCAL INNOVATION FOR A GLOBAL PROBLEM
Two teams of researchers in Kampala, Uganda are attempting to tackle these issues at home; developing truly innovative technology in the process. In doing so they have highlighted some of the challenges in developing and taking a product to market, not only in their home country, but across the Sub-Saharan African continent.
Matibabu and MamaOpe are both healthcare technology developers. One was born in the Computer Science labs of Makerere University in Kampala, the other was formed after a family member of one of the co-founders sadly lost their life due to the mis-diagnosis of pneumonia.
Matibabu’s vision is to connect healthcare with communities through the provision of low-cost medical devices. They are currently developing a hardware device that uses the principles of light-scattering and magnetism to detect red blood cells infected by the malaria parasite. By leveraging mobile technology they can convert the results to provide the end-user with a simple and easily-interpretable diagnosis.
MamaOpe is developing a wearable diagnostic vest for children under 5 to accurately diagnose pneumonia. It uses simple, low-cost, durable technology to identify the distinct breathing patterns of the disease and presents a diagnostic result to the medical practitioner in a matter of minutes without the need for laboratory tests and lengthy analysis times.
AFRIC Editorial article.