Harnessing talents of the students by encouraging innovation

11Jun 2019
James Kandoya
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Harnessing talents of the students by encouraging innovation

MUKRIM Omary and other four students at the St Joseph University in Tanzania hope to be millionaire from the innovation that can highly reduce shortage of cardiologists.

St Joseph University in Tanzania.

They have invented - Artificial intelligence (AI) Cardiologist Robot as a solution to overcome shortage of such experts in the country.

It is the human like intelligence exhibited by machines and software. It describes an automated clinic based on artificial intelligence.

Their innovation comes at the time while the government is working hard to train more experts to treat people suffering from cardiovascular.

For instance, since 2015, the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), has attended over 200,000 patients while the numbers of cardiologists available do not exceed 50.

Omary said the demand also pushed them to come up with alternative technology instead of depending on training that normally takes almost eight years.

Another factor was the rapid increase of Non Communicable Disease (NCD) contributing to cardiac disease contributed a lot to the innovation.

“Shortage of cardiologists is big challenge in the country and if not solved on time, it will double increase the number of deaths,” he said.

“If there are only 20 cardiologists while the number of patients attended annually reaches 60,000, this means more and quick attention is needed to solve it and therefore came up with robot,” he said.

The technology works on the measurement of seven prominent physiological parameters of a person who enters a doctor's clinic.

These physiological parameters are Saturation of Oxygen in the blood(SpO2), electrical activities of the heart (ECG), height, heart beats, heart sound (PCG), weight, body temperature and blood pressure.

These parameters together with ECG wave forms will help the AI in diagnosis of common heart diseases like congenital heart diseases, Rheumatic heart diseases and Vascular (aneurysm).

According to him, the system will record particular information of patients such as names, age and all other relevant information.

Elaborating more, he said the system can serve patients in places that cannot access similar services such as rural places adding that it serve times, transporting cost, reduce congestion.

Another fourth year student, Mwanaidi Lulanga, from the same University, hinted that the use of Information Technology in heath sectors is the best solution to the problem.

She said the robot will be placed in all district and regional offices while the system will be installed within all councils in public hospitals.

Explaining how it works, she said once the sensor is placed on the patient’s body, it can be capable of giving prescription and diagnosis to the patient’s heart without the need of the physician after seven minutes.

All collected information will be submitted to the robot installed in the district and regional hospital.

“The system takes all information and give the results in seven minutes according to the disease diagnosed and its treatment,” he said.

Lulanga assured that the measurement of the above-mentioned parameters must not make any discomfort to the patient and hence must be essentially an invasive type

He clarified that anyone who has experience and related technology can simply own the item since can also be accessed or connected to the system through Smartphone.

She explains that the total cost of designing and installation US dollar 5,000 adding that since it had been install in public facilities it can be free.

The private facilities can access the system by contributing a little sum compared to if the patient went to access services.

What the University do.

The Lecturer at St Joseph university, Engineer, Lawrance Kerefu, says the idea came from the students as way to help them in future instead of waiting for employment.

The don said the varsity introduced the course to prepare students to employ themselves and therefore improve the nation economy, those graduate can employ themselves.

“Our target is to give them a broader knowledge and build their capacity to overcome unemployment problem once complete their studies,” he said.

Dr Kerefu who is also the Director of Innovation and Techno –preneurship acceleration facility said instead of students waiting for employment, they must have a vision of employing and opening their company

The don added that students are obliged to change the challenges facing the community to be economic opportunities instead of becoming problem.

He said students are give training about innovation and entrepreneurs to give the knowledge to establish their own companies.

Through the technology, they will conduct training to the health providers in all hospitals that aimed at reduce the shortage of cardiologists.

The way project is implemented

Dk. Kerefu elaborated more that the university supervises them to ensure that they realise their dream and support them financially in all stages including registration.

The varsity will sign a six to one year contract with them for the time they are outside the campus to ensure their rights are reserved well legally.

Moreover, in future when the project grows, it will ask them to pay one percent of the total profit to enable other projects to in the campus to take over.

“We always teach them that always when you are employed, you are there to develop the dream of others. They must change and become owners if they want to develop their ideas,” he said.

According to him, the project had already involved the Commission of Science and Technology (COSTECH) and it promised to collaborate with them.

Country situation

In Tanzania, indicators show that there was rapid increase in number of people diagnosed with cardiovascular problems.

The number of people attended by the institute ranged between 300 and 400 patients, this is according to the JKCI Executive Director Professor Mohammed Janabi.

He further said that the number of experts was not proportional to the number of patients noting that the institute had only 20 compared while the demand is 50.

Since 2015, the institute diagnosed 23,000, out patients (OPD), in 2016 were 53,000 while in 2017 were 60,000 and in 2018 were 76,000.

“In view of the fact, in those three years, the institute has attended over 200,000 outpatients, admitted 11, 000, and conducted open heart surgery 800,”he said.

Globally, Global situation

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a total of 18 million people die annually from heart disease, which is equivalent to 31 percent.

From the number, 75 percent of recorded deaths happen in Africa continent and mostly in Latin America and Asia continent.

These challenges are now receiving more attention, with plans to improve the governance and education of human resources for health organizations at national and sub-regional levels.