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These Amazing Ugandans have Developed an App that Detects and Prevents Breast Cancer

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Meet these awesome young men, all fresh graduates of Information Technology at Makerere Univerisity;  Moris Atwine 21, Kabwama Alvin Leonard 22, Lwangwa Mwesigwa David 22 that have developed an app that diagnoses and prevents breast cancer. These three  friends turned their passion for information technology to create solutions that would change the lives of Africans especially the women that are at risk of  suffering the deadly cancer. We took of sometime to chat with them.

What in the  is BreastIT?

BreastIT is a mobile application that aids in the diagnosis and prevention of breast cancer. It carries out timely diagnosis of anomalies in the breast, as breast cancer. This is done by analyzing the images of the inner breast which are obtained through the use of the glove, which with the help of the ultrasound sensors does imaging of the inner breast.

For a complete process, the mobile phone with a windows operating system does the image analysis by running the images that it has received from the glove through its database and gives results basing on the conclusive analysis it does.

How does it work?

BreastIT is a mobile phone application designed for windows phone that carries out timely diagnosis of breast cancer using the information relayed to it by the “Hyphen glove” which is the hardware connected to windows phone.

The glove is made up of piezoelectric crystals that are attached at the top of the palm. These crystals generate ultrasound that scans the inner part of the breast, gets images which are later sent to phone via Bluetooth for diagnosis.

Diagnosis is one of the main features of the app and once a user selects this functionality, he or she is prompted to start. Once one chooses the start option, the hyphen glove is turned on. A user must be wearing the glove by time it is turned on, then one can gently place in front of the breast of the patient, hover around to get a clear picture of the inside.

This picture is generated by the crystals through ultrasound. After a clear picture is obtained, it is saved in phone’s database and phone gives results basing on the conclusive analysis it does and user can upload them to the one drive for safer storage or for purposes of sharing the results with the radiologist.

Additionally, BreastIT shows you how to go about checking your breasts with a handy video, plus you will be able to find out how your lifestyle could affect your risk of getting breast cancer. BreastIT also offers information about different radiologists within your area or country, hence making it easy for user to get any medical advice from them.

Here is the video that illustrates more

Who is behind this amazing app?

Moris Atwine – He is the Team Lead and Developer!

Kabwama Alvin Leonard – He works as the hardware engineer and designer.

Lwangwa Mwesigwa David – He’s the lead researcher of the team.

What problems does it seek to solve?

Women from Sub-Saharan Africa were found to have a low incidence of breast cancer. This was partly explained by a largely protective reproductive history. The average at diagnosis however is approximately 10 years younger than breast cancer patients in western nations. This is why we come up with this project, that reduces the risk of mortality at an early age since the screening and diagnosis can be done early and easily.

We look at reducing the deaths in women and men who die of this cancer in Africa, and worldwide through the use of BreastIT which is of much help, cheap and portable.

Uganda, as our case study, breast cancer can be prevented if and only if there is early diagnosis. This is where BreastIT comes in handy. It’s very vital and important for one to know how bad the situation they are in is, and this is only possible if one carries out early diagnosis. More so, Uganda is about the size of all the New England states (The whole New England states have over

600 member radiologists, a geographic area with a population of 14 million) lumped together and has a population of 35 million.

So how many radiologists are there in Uganda? 42. And 32 of these 42 live in the city of Kampala, whose population is 1.7

Million. The other 10 radiologists in Uganda are “Up-Country”, meaning that they work in more rural areas. With that brief exploration of demographics, access to radiology is limited.

What other opportunities do you think this app is likely to create?

Among the Product’s marketing strategy is to create health booths in village centers, where people will receive a training and later get employed to help the locals with accessing the services.

There is insufficient information at the cancer registries about people who diagnose for breast cancer annually, the information available shall help cancer registries to get accurate statistics.

Where do you draw your inspiration?

Moris lost a relative to Breast cancer, together with the team thought of a way they could stop family history (one of common causes to breast cancer) from affecting the other family members and that’s how BreastIT came up.

What is your greatest achievement so far?

Last Saturday at the Annual Mozilla Festival East Africa, The President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was impressed with the product and was happy to note that he will fully support it through its final development stages, commercialization and scaling.

We were also runners Up of the ICT For Development Award in the just concluded ACIA Awards by Uganda communications Commission where we managed to win USD 5,000.1250  (on the placard was the cash prize) plus 3750 implementation grant.

We were also among the online finals winners of the Microsoft Imagine Cup in the World Citizenship Category, and as only team from Africa and Middle East!

What in your view is the future of technology in Uganda?

Innovators continue to tackle most of these pressing problems meaning the future is clearly bright, but we can’t deliver as expected if the Government doesn’t come up to fully support us through funding our research as some of these projects need experts to make it to the product stage.

Are there times you have wanted to give up?

We have never really thought about that, we are solving one of the silent killers among women in the world, and too affects men which we easily beat.

 What keeps you going during tough times?

I always believe that through innovation, we are saving a life, creating awareness and making the world a better place to live in.

What other projects have you worked on?

We have so far worked on another mobile application code named visual+ which helps the visually impaired to access and be able to manage the most frequently used applications on phones as making phone calls and playing music.

This is done with the use of gestures and a voice commands to help the user interact with a smart phone as any other person clearly looking at the phone.

Any last Words to the reader?

“There is nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from solving a real challenge that fellow Africans and the whole world in particular face” – Moris Atwine, Founder and Lead BreastIT

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. abdoulayebah

    July 21, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    One of my fondest memories of my recent visit to Kampala was the visit to Makerere University. It isn’t perhaps rich, I but I found it clean, with well cut grass and clear directions for the faculties and other services. So it’s not a surprise if an education system like this generate small scholars.

    Congratulations to these young geniuses. I hope their invention will find a good development for large scale production.

  2. BreastIT

    August 2, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Reblogged this on BreastIT and commented:
    Interview with This Is Uganda.. Please read through, and get back to us! #BreastIT #UgApps #Innovation

  3. BreastIT

    August 2, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Thanks This Is Uganda folks for the exciting interview and Abdoulayebah for that enriching comment!

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How Segawa is advocating for reproductive health through creative arts

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No better way of approaching critical subjects like sexual reproductive health rights than with hip hop, ballet, contemporary Latino dances. Bring on these, you have the attention of the young people. What started as a university passion by a group of friends has turned out to impact many Ugandan youth.

 

Flash mobMeet Segawa Patrick  an energetic, proactive and self-motivated Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) advocate and Public Health practitioner with passion for social entrepreneurship and ICT for health. He works with youth and community empowerment projects, health education and promotion (Music, Dance & Drama), research methods, volunteering, customer care service and developing working relationships between the community and local leaders towards addressing prioritized health needs.

He is the Founder and Programme Manager at Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) and CEO for Rabbit Factory Ltd; a specialty green business enterprise dedicated to improve the livelihoods of all youths and women through Rabbit Farming in Wakiso district. He is also working as an Advocacy Officer at Community Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI) with the Advocacy for Better Health Project in Nakasongola, Luwero and Kayunga District funded by PATH and USAID.

Segawa is the winner for the Green Business Plan Competition 2014 organized by International Labor Organization and Youth Entrepreneurship Facility. Furthermore, he has participated in the Young Innovators Hangout on UN Day on 24th, October 2014. Recognized for an outstanding exhibition display on innovation that contributed positive change in the community through the School Chalk Making Business Project. He has ventured into school chalk making business as a social enterprise for empowering young people with business and entrepreneurship skills through training and mentor-ship.

Segawa was part of the Ugandan delegates during the High Level Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Development Goals in August 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya. The High Level Youth Policy Dialogue on SDGs is an African youth event, open to international youth, with an aim of gathering and strengthening political commitment for governments to support prioritizing investment in youth development in the post-2015 era. These meeting cultivated recommendations made by young people and created political goodwill for African countries to champion the youth agenda at the intergovernmental negotiations (September 2014-September 2015).

He has been selected to be part of the Women Deliver’s Young Leaders Program 2015 and attending the Women Deliver Conference in 2016. Women Deliver seeks to harness the untapped potential and passion of young leaders. Women Deliver works to develop the skills of young advocates in developing countries through our workshops, online learning communities, scholarships to key events, and high-level networking opportunities.

Segawa has also received the “IHSU Health Promotion and Educative Arts Award” for his outstanding contribution in the area of Sexual and Reproductive health through creative and performance arts from International Health Sciences University.

He hopes that in ten years, PHAU will be a global movement and platform for young people who are passionate about making a difference within their countries especially on the issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health that affect youths and communities. This platform will be used to advocate for better health policies address SRHR issues in targeted populations and provide oversight of developed and established public health partnerships, synergies and consortiums at a national, regional and international level for evidence based SRHR interventions in different countries. In addition, provide a joined voice for young people to foster capacity building, research and innovations in the area of Sexual and Reproductive and Rights.

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Flash mob in action at Colville Street with over 100 participants during the World AIDS Day activities on 01-December 2014.

 

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This man has developed a device that enables phones to charge using a dynamo

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Meet Elliot Mwebaze a Telecom Engineering graduate, who has made charging phones that much easier by lessening their dependence on electricity. Over a period of 9 months he developed a device that enables phones to charge using a bicycle dynamo.  A dynamo is that device that enables bicycles to produce light. His innovation converts that rotating energy from the bike into electrical energy which is more suitable to charge the mobile phones within 120 minutes.

When he is not working for Galooli Uganda, he spends his time looking for opportunities through which he can improve his innovation and make it accessible for all bicycle riders. This technology is ideally based for the rural population of Uganda who use bicycles more often as a mode of transport. Rather than travelling miles to charge a phone in the nearest town centre, their phones can charge on their journey to other meaningful work.

His initial inspiration to create an alternative energy source for charging mobile phones. Having missed a final exam missed because his phone had blacked out in a remote village in Rukungiri and the only way he could get it back on was to move to the next town to re charge. He then devoted most of his free time and energy on finding alternative ways through which phones could stay on even in places without power supply.

He was picked by the UCC to represent Uganda in the East African ICT exhibition organised by the East African Communications Organisation. Where his innovation got more visibility with the East African community.

He has faced very many challenges trying to build his idea into a tangible product, the most significant being difficulty in finding the necessary equipment. But with his knowledge in engineering and extreme patience, he managed to grow his concept to the product that help keep people on air longer. This experience has taught him to have no reverence for failure. “You have to fail before you can succeed” he says. Failure is something that will happen more often than not. But it can only make you better if you do not choose the easy way out and quit.

In a discussion on the increasing levels of unemployment and under employment In Uganda, he puts the blame largely on our theoretical education system which does not focus on technical skills which in turn leads to failure of ideas to develop into something tangible. The lack of manufacturing industry too which could be an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and boost the local economy. With reports of Uganda having the largest number start-ups and failed businesses he points to lack of basic skills such as book keeping, integrity, customer service.

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Remit is changing the way money is transferred to Uganda from allover the World

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Remit Uganda is most definitely changing money transfers from allover the world into Uganda. It is simple to use, cheap, secure and fast because the recipient will receive the money instantly.

Remit was born out of the need to solve an international money transfer challenge. Stone Atwine the CEO, having worked away from home faced challenges of sending money to his grandmother that lived in Uganda. It was hectic, inconvenient and time consuming. Together with his friends; David Madra, TMS Ruge and Collins Mugume they came up with a solution that led to the birth of Remit Uganda.

Using Remit is very simple –visit the website, sign up, log in, enter amount of money and the recipient’s registered mobile money number. Money can be transferred from anywhere around the world. This process leads the sender to a page where they can enter their card details, money is taken out of their bank account and this will trigger a transfer to the recipient’s mobile number which will be received instantly.

For now, although one can send money from around the world, the only recipient country is Uganda.

Remit has given the recipient the luxury and convenience to receive money on any day, at any time, in every corner of the country as long as there is a mobile money point unlike in the past when one used to wait for banks to open. Uganda alone has over 50,000 mobile money agents and they are spread right across the country.

Remit has won a number of awards; they were the best startup in Uganda at Seedstars World 2014 and represented the country in Geneva. They have been voted among the top 10 startups in Africa at the global competition Get in the Ring and they were recently involved in Village Capital’s Fintech for agriculture program.

For a start up like Remit, there are challenges of regulatory compliance, anti-money laundering, countering of financial terrorism and a lot of money is needed to facilitate the start up to get it to international levels.

“This business is not for the faint hearted. This kind of work calls for resilience.”

“Resilience is a trait that young innovators must possess. Many young Ugandans are creative and they have put their minds to work to see that they use IT to create solutions to these challenges.

While the young people shouldn’t wait for the government to do something, Stone Atwine strongly believes that government ought to set up serious programmes that will help innovators incubate their ideas through providing basics such as space and Internet.

“When kids come up with ideas, they are at a very basic seed level so they need seed stage capital to keep going. Unfortunately, most of them close their businesses because of lack of capital so there must be a system to help them move forward.”

“The ecosystem of Nairobi has gone to another level because innovation is supported.” Atwine says.

Africa is going places in digital financial services. In five years, Africa will be a global leader in mobile financial services like credit, savings, micro insurance and remittances.

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