The growing capabilities and widespread use of mobile technologies are providing new opportunities for mobile data collection, particularly in low-resource settings. CellScope is a new way to use the camera of a mobile phone to collect magnified images for medical, scientific, and educational purposes. The technology allows for point-of-care diagnoses that allow health professionals to overcome distances between patients and hospitals, and achieve impacts on health at the community level. This decentralized model is particularly useful in low-resource rural areas where health facilities with expensive diagnostic equipment can be few and far between. Now, the developer of CellScope, Dan Fletcher, is using the technology to fight Schistosomiasis, an infection affecting 200 million people in 2000. The economic burden and negative health impact from schistosomiasis place it among the most devastating diseases in Africa.
The latest effort by the CellScope team–funded by USAID through the CEGA-Blum Center co-managed Development Impact Lab (DIL)–used the CellScope technology to automatically quantify Schistosomiasis using new hardware and new image processing algorithms that run on the phone. Their team tested the new device – the SchistoScope – with collaborators in the Ivory Coast. The device has the potential to utilize available resources more efficiently and to bring a high-performance schistosomiasis diagnostic to regions where they are currently unavailable. This follows on existing DIL-funded work with Professor Fletcher to develop CellScope to diagnose Loa Loa and Tuberculosis.
Results and Policy Lessons
The research team published their results demonstrating the “SchistoScope’s” effectiveness as a point-of-care diagnostic tool with comparable diagnostic performance with conventional microscopy and analytic performance of a high-skill technician.
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