Uganda

Uganda: Youth innovation, a paradigm shift in the health system

(Last Updated On: 25 August 2022)

In Uganda, around 2% of women die from maternal causes.


By Christine Awor

Lira, August 24, 2022: A 24-year-old Lira-based Co-Founder of Kakebe Technologies Limited Sedrick Otolo is the brain behind a new cutting-edge pregnant mother’s ‘IoT monitoring system’.

Otolo has developed a wearable wrist device that tracks a pregnant woman’s temperature, heartbeat, pressure, and GPS location and relays data to a doctor in real-time.

Though the idea was started in 2018 as a boot camp, the biggest push factor behind this, according to Otolo, was when he lost a relative due to poor monitoring and checkups. After, together with the team, they’re striving so hard to save any other mother even though they are tech illiterate.

“My purpose in life is being a gift, am a gift and a gift is supposed to be a blessing to people,” Otolo said.

According to the innovator, backed by verifiable facts, in Uganda, a total of 16 mothers die and this is equivalent to a taxi crash claiming all passengers.

He adds that due to complications that arise during pregnancy, they have put together a module that enables the doctor and mother to exchange information so that she can have an appointment with the doctor.

The COVID-19 lockdown was a great trigger since it gave them a great platform to invest more, in working on the project and helped them secure little funding to start over.

The innovator, however, reveals that the device still doesn’t exist in real life. “It is still an idea we have put together and is still in the fine-tuning stage.”

His vision is to have a world where mothers survive childbirth by having their pregnancies remotely monitored using low-cost IoT technologies.

“In life we face challenges but despite this, it was not a limiting factor to the team,” Otolo added.

“Together with my team, some challenges faced were; others gave up, financial constraint and support and being students, we had no capital.”

Sedrick is the Uganda National Innovation Award winner 2021 awarded by the President of Uganda. he received many more different innovation awards in respective areas, Otolo told me.

Some of the innovations (Apps) they have in place are; Soila App, Kakebe shop online, and Mwonya Music App (the latter) is used for promoting the content of both local and national artists.

A piece of cake to the youth

According to Otolo, “we are in a digital world so whether you want or not, everyone needs to adapt to technology, you should be creative and make an impact, be a developer.”

In Uganda, most youths are not taking the move and end up blaming the government. Instead, they should come up with something that the government can pick up from because innovation is not just about technology, technology is just part of innovation.

Survivors’ tales

Jackline Amuchu, 32, is a Ugandan by nationality and married with 3 children, a residence of Barr sub country in Lira district.

According to Amuchu, “During the second COVID19 lockdown, a total lockdown was imposed on us, I was 3 months pregnant. In my 2nd trimester, due to the condition bodas were restricted from moving unless they are cleared to carry during an emergency or special needs, I got so scared that I couldn’t go even for my antenatal fearing that I would be arrested….”

“I comfortably sat at home with my baby without going for any checkups, along the way, I started feeling crampy, feverish and a lot of pain and I got a miscarriage due to lack of check-ups and medical attention.”

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That was one of the worst experiences she had to go through.

Sandra Auma, 25, a mother of two and a resident of Agweng sub-county in Lira district had to go through very horrific moments from “losing her mind and her baby” due to her inability to access a health centre in July 2020 at the peak of COVID19 lockdown in Uganda.

Anam didn’t know she had a pregnancy complication called Ectopic pregnancy. This is a pregnancy in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. She kept trusting the traditional birth attendant (TBA) down in the village who told her to just wait for her due date.

Along the way, according to her, she started feeling unwell. “That is when I went to the hospital and got my uterus removed.”

This is a horrific moment that no mother should live to see, hearing of such an idea like Otolos, she can’t wait to be one of the beneficiaries of the Pregcare device.

It would be like a dream come true to most mothers in rural places who are falling victims in the hands of TBA.

Health official commits

Teddy Akullu, a medical personnel in Otuke District, asked about her views on the device, she is very overwhelmed to notice it.

“This will really help us track mothers deep in remote places who are hesitant about coming for a check-up due to many personal challenges ranging from poverty to long distance.”

She thinks if this device gets launched, it would have saved the lives of many and reduced mortality death rates in the region.

CDF’s pledge 

Moris Chris Ongom, the president of Lira City Development Forum (CDF) says as a city authority and individual, he will see ways of pushing and supporting the young brains at all costs.

Ongom thinks the ideas shouldn’t just remain in papers and pledged to support them in the best way they can as an authority.

“As someone who mentors young people, I am proud young people like Otolo provides us with the hope that most of the challenges we grapple with as a region, challenges in our health systems have led to high mortality rates.”

“I make a pledge as president of development in the city to create a space where such skills are given a ground to showcase. We are losing a lot of mothers because of a lot of challenges they are going through from antenatal care issues.”

According to a study conducted by BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth

In Uganda, around 2% of women die from maternal causes. With the current maternal mortality ratio of 336 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, many women die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications.

Uganda’s infant mortality currently stands at 43 deaths per 1000 live births, therefore 1 in 23 children dies before reaching their first birthday, with 42% of the mortality occurring during the neonatal period.

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