In Uganda, prenatal care is complicated. The government recommends pregnant women to undergo four prenatal visits, but when you live in a rural area, travelling to see a doctor costs a lot of time and money. Midwives are the second-best option here, but they do not possess necessary medical equipment. Luckily, all that has changed now, thanks to a group of young African developers that have made the Microsoft prenatal ultrasound possible using a smartphone.
Joshua Okello and his friends won the Microsoft East and Southern African Imagine Cup National Finals back in 2012. After this, their idea of reinventing ultrasound technology also got them a $50,000 grant at the Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley. Since then, Okello and his friends have created a company called Cipher256, and their revolutionary ultrasound product is now known as WinSenga.
WinSenga is a smartphone-based ultrasound that allows for a fetoscope to be connected into a mobile phone. Using an app, doctors, midwives and mothers themselves are readily able to monitor the health of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat as early as during 13 weeks of gestation.
Okello says that in 2013, there were as much as 3 million newborn deaths and over 2 million stillbirths along with 200,000 maternal deaths. The numbers are alarming, especially considering that more than 60 percent of these cases occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. He and his team hope that the WinSenga will be able to “turn a new leaf” in Africa and the rest of the world by improving the experience of expectant mothers, which in turn, will hopefully positively affect the pregnancy outcomes.
The WinSenga has been built using Microsoft technology. Its app was creating using Visual Studio and is also backed by Azure cloud services. Meanwhile, the ultrasound capability is also currently utilizing the Windows Phone. Meanwhile, Microsoft Philantrophies Senior Director Ken Ryals believes this is exactly what the Imagine Cup is about, helping people “achieve amazing things” in order to make a difference.