Waging war against a silent killer – The MDex Story

Recently a regular Sunday evening in February turned somber. On Ugandan social media anyway. When glowing eulogies of the work and life of an African literary sage best known (online) as Nevender filled our timelines. He was a warrior, an advocate for better healthcare delivery for Sickle Cell Anemia (which we shall refer to as SCA in this story) sicklers, a wonderful man, a brilliant wordsmith, an irreplaceable friend and everything in between. We were robbed of so much. And we continue to lose so many little ones and their potential contribution to a better world.
It might come as a surprise to many that in this information age which you revel and benefit a great deal from, a great majority of our countrymen and women living in our ancestral lands still bundle up "mysterious" health conditions such as SCA as acts of evil, witchcraft and curses upon sicklers and their families.

Sickle-cell disease (SCD) is a group of blood disorders typically inherited from a person's parents. The most common type is known as sickle-cell anaemia (SCA).This disorder affecting red blood cells making them unable to efficiently carry oxygen around the body.

Would you believe that eighty percent (80%) of the more than 25,000 babies born with SCA in Uganda do not get to realize as much potential let alone live to see their fifth (5th) birthday[1]? Many of them without any confirmatory diagnosis during their short lives, owing to limited access to credible testing centers which are mostly located in urban areas. 
Even if some could reach these centers, the average USD 5 test remains a deterrent for families who live on a USD 1 a day or less.

About six out of the forty million Ugandans carry the sickle cells trait and could transmit the sickle cells gene [2]. These numbers should be sobering by now.

But not all hope is lost, as you’ll be happy to learn that a team of passionate game changers (as pictured below) are determined to change the statistics, to bring hope and perhaps even give life. A little over 3 years ago this team of undergraduate students waged war on this silent killer following the untimely death of a mutual friend.
[L-R: Aitaru Rachel Olema, Bonita Beatrice Nanziri & I (Joanitah Nvannungi N)]
This team of passionate, determined young women at AfriGal Technologies is developing MDex, a mobile application, to give a new lease on life to communities prone to SCA, using mobile and cloud-based technologies to simplify SCA diagnosis.
MDex uses a detachable re-usable lens and common salt to aid the quick diagnosis of Sickle Cell Anemia (less than 24-hours turn-around test time) for all, including low income economies and rural-based health care centers. The technology targets all newborns, especially those at risk, to allow for early enrollment into specialized care and education of parents on the right mode of care for their children, as we edge towards a permanent solution to wipe this world clean of SCA altogether! 
Under the guidance and generous stewardship of Uganda National Health Laboratory services (UNHLS), Microsoft Patent Program, Women in Technology Uganda, Hive Colab, Resilient Africa Network and Big Ideas - UC Berkeley the team has come to a place in the development of MDex where we need your help. Yes, YOU!
The AfriGal Technologies team is inviting you to be a part of building this solution. If you help us raise USD 5675 (UGX 21,000,000), the great people at Close the Gap will match half of it, as part of LEAP² Tech Women Challenge Uganda.
Your contribution will facilitate the next stage of development that will deliver a Minimum Viable Product that can confirm Sickle Cell Disease in less than 30 minutes using saline solution, a drop of blood and a smartphone.
By taking part in our crowdfunding campaign, starting Wednesday 18th April, 2018 until 18th May 2018, you will help us save millions of lives. Here is how you can contribute:
1.      Donate directly HERE!
2.      Share this opportunity with a friend, family, your social media family and every community of cheerful givers.
We are excited to collaborate with the next passionate scientist and development partner!
Champion science with us. 

So let’s get Giving!

Remember: $5675. 30 days. 18th April – 18th May, 2018. Give life. 
Make Sickle Cell Anemia diagnosis & access to better care possible for all. 


[1]- East African Medical Journal Vol. 80 No. 7 July 2003; SICKLE CELL DISEASE IN UGANDA: A TIME FOR ACTION
[2] NTV Uganda 

Photo by: BBC News


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