HemoGlobe device could improve anaemia detection in developing countries
A new low cost screening device that could save thousands of women and children from anaemia-related deaths and disabilities has been developed by engineers from Johns Hopkins University.
The non-invasive device, dubbed HemoGlobe, is designed to convert the existing mobile phone lines of health workers into a 'prick-free' system for detecting and reporting anaemia, which contributes to 100,000 maternal deaths and 600,000 newborn deaths annually.
"This device has the potential to be a game changer," said Soumyadipta Acharya, the project's faculty adviser and principal investigator. "It will equip millions of health care workers across the globe to quickly and safely detect this debilitating condition in pregnant women and newborns."
HemoGlobe works via a sensor placed on the patient's fingertip, which shines different wavelengths of light through the skin to measure the hemoglobin level in the blood. On their phone's screen, community health workers will quickly see a colour-coded test result, indicating cases of anaemia, from mild to moderate and severe.
If anaemia is detected, women will be encouraged to follow a course of treatment, ranging from taking iron supplements to visiting a clinic or hospital for potentially life saving treatments. After every test, the phone sends an automated text message with a summary of the results to a central server to produce a real-time map showing where anaemia is prevalent. This information, according to Acharya, could facilitate follow-up care and help health officials allocate resources where the need is most urgent.
The Johns Hopkins team has so far secured a $250,000 seed grant to further develop HemoGlobe, which they estimate could be produced for $10 to $20 (£6 to £13) each.
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