Ugandan Students Create App to Detect Vaginal Bacteria
By Laura Newnham
A group of five female students from Makerere University in Uganda have successfully created a test kit connected to a smartphone app that is able to detect harmful vaginal bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis and other infections.
In a video posted to YouTube, the team known as Team Code Gurus explain exactly how they created the app. The test kit, known as Her Health BVKit, consists of hardware and a software application.
The hardware is the actual test kit that connects to the smartphone app via Bluetooth. By placing a urine or vaginal discharge sample onto the kit, PH values can be sent to the application. The app then interprets whether the user has healthy or unhealthy amounts of vaginal bacteria. If there are unhealthy levels of bacteria present, the application recommends that the user seeks medical attention and indicates where their nearest doctor or clinic is.
The team’s programmer, Ndagire Esther explains that the team would like to work with NGOs and other health facilities to supply rural women with the kit:
“We plan on marketing our application through NGOs, clinics and pharmacies. We hope the NGOs can help us reach rural areas where women who don’t have the opportunity to test their bacteria will be able to use our application.”
She goes on to explain that the idea is to make the hardware and software to make it easy to use and widely available for women to test themselves every month for harmful bacteria that could indicate infection.
The application could bring hope to a country where health knowledge and accessibility remains a challenge. Despite the declining HIV rates in Uganda, there is still much work to do when it comes to sexual health.
The Ugandan Ministry of Health website explains that a third of the population is aged 10-24 and currently more babies are born to teenage mothers than to adult women. The Ministry adds that whilst over 90% of people aged 20-24 know about condoms, less than 50% had ever used a condom. This indicates just how at risk of infection young Ugandan women are.
The journal of Sexual Transmitted Infections, part of the British Medical Journal, recently published a study into bacterial vaginosis amongst Ugandan women that were considered to be “high risk for HIV”. The study found that 905 (88%) of the women involved tested positive for bacterial vaginosis at least once during the course of the study.