Mamaope: A jacket that detects pneumonia

A Ugandan graduate designed a high-tech wearable to fight the scourge of pneumonia in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Photograph: Brett Eloff/The Royal Academy of Engineering
Photograph: Brett Eloff/The Royal Academy of Engineering

Early diagnosis is key when fighting disease. This fact is especially true in developing countries like Uganda where pneumonia kills up to 27 000 children every year. According to The Guardian, an innovation by 24-year-old Ugandan graduate Brian Turyabagye could play a key role in changing the way we approach pneumonia treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Misdiagnosis is a major contributor to the high rate of pneumonia fatality on the African continent. When Turyabagye’s grandmother fell ill she was initially diagnosed with malaria. As her condition deteriorated it became apparent that the initial diagnosis was wrong. To prevent this from happening again, Turyabagye set out to create a high-tech solution.

Dubbed “Mamaope”, or “mother’s hope”, the biomedical smart jacket identifies the symptoms of pneumonia, distinguishing the disease from a similar killer: malaria.

“We focused on the distinguishing signs of pneumonia,” Turyabagye was quoted as saying. “One of the processes that most doctors use is a stethoscope to the check the lungs. But [pneumonia] tends to be on side points around the body, not just in the chest or back. Its accuracy of being able to diagnose what is healthy, and what is not, is very encouraging.”

The prototype will undergo an official national medical examination in January. It has been shortlisted for 2017’s £25 000 Africa prize for engineering innovation, which is facilitated by the Royal Academy of Engineering.