Meet the student who has made an App to fight Fistula

Written by: 
RUTH NAKAFUUMA

In today’s world where the human race is continuously getting faced with various challenges, there has always been need to up technology levels so as to counter the mismatch

Julius Mugaga is a student at Makerere University and one of those people who were pushed out of their comfort zones by this reality to take on the challenge.

Last week, during the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) open day, he launched his FistApp phone application that can be used to detect possible abnormalities in pregnant women especially abstracted labour.

"Abstracted labour happens when the presenting part of the foetus can not progress into the birth canal despite strong uterine contractions. Among other causes include abnormal positioning of the baby in the womb, small pelvis poor nutrition during early stages of pregnancy, and poor health among mothers," Mugaga explains.

In most cases, the treatment of abstracted labor may require caesarian section or vacuum extraction with possible surgical opening of the symphyses pubis and if not done well, it can lead to one of the most devastating long-term health complication, Fistula, which may be expensive to reverse.

BACKGROUND

Mugaga is a finalist from Makerere University College of Health Sciences. He is 22 years old and an old boy of St Marys Kitende.

Mugaga recalls that his inspiration came from seeing an increase in the levels of Fistula prevalence among women in Uganda which is an outcome of abstracted labor.

It therefore triggered his mind to think of a viable solution which could serve a slogan “prevention is better than cure". In this, he wanted a software which could predetermine the chances of abstracted labor as early as at 7months of pregnancy to allow the quick reverse of maternal complications among pregnant mothers.

The other reason for Mugaga to make this app was that he wanted to add value to antenatal mothers who die almost every hour while giving birth.

HOW IT WORKS

The innovator elaborates that FistApp is a medical application coded using Java programming language and it’s meant to run on phones or computers.

"It is a piece of software technology meant o predetermine the chances of abstracted labor through the automatic computation of mother's antenatal data to detect irregularities in baby growth and positioning that might affect normal child delivery," he says.

He add that his FistApp could replace the local way of baby positioning checkup where a doctor or nurse inserts their fists in the uterus of a pregnant mother to check on the baby.

"The App is user friendly to both the doctor and mother. It consists of multilinear regression mode equation which provides a statistical percentage which is used by the doctor to assess the risk of abstracted labor," he explains.

But achieve this percentage, Mugaga says that one needs to fill the medical form provided by the app on which pregnant mother indicate their antenatal data like information about age and health complications.

The other information that is required is the number of children ever produced, blood pressure, foetal heart rate, anaemia status (mainly cell blood count), and any infection among other things.

"It is from these that the multilinear regression mode equation calculates and provides a percentage," Mugaga says.

FistApp is still undergoing tests at Kawolo and Iganga hospitals in Uganda and soon it will be on google play store for downloads.

COSTS INCURRED

"Sincerely I can't figure out the costs because they are too much. But with the assistance extended to me by various organizations like Oxford university, UNFPA, African Biomedical Consortium among others, they managed to facilitate my research experiments and trips to various places," he adds.

EXPECTED EARNINGS

As the saying goes that there is no action without motive, either of earning money or something else so is Mugaga's intention for the innovation.

"We don't intend to burden the users but ready to earn most of the income from downloads and ads. So, this could allow us have a perfect business model but still providing a cost effective solution for developing countries," Mugaga says.

He also adds that he's looking forward to acquiring a patent which will help him partner with World Health Organisation (WHO). additonally, Mugaga aims at validating the multilinear regression mode equation which is still unsuitable.

But the FistApp isn't the only innovation of Mugaga. He has other projects including the Automotive Air Detector machine which focuses on checking old vehicles that produce toxic gases in the environment. He is also the brain behind the CMMS system/HOPiTrack meant to track and monitor doctors and patients in hospitals (it manages absenteeism among doctors and child theft in hospitals).

ACHIEVEMENTS

"I've moved places; that is in and out of Africa. I'm working with UN apparently and earning while still at school. I've won numerous awards for instance the Mak Varsity award for most innovative project of the year 2015, Project of the year 2016 award from UN. I went to Oxford university for studies. This makes me feel thankful of life and God's favour over me," Mugaga proudly intimates.

For now, Mugaga has hope that his project will work because of the increasing usage of computers and smart phones among people, hence his motto "FistApp: be easily circulated".