If you have not heard about AfriGalTech up until “now”, well this is the time to get to know one of the African’s talents of the future. AfriGalTech is comprised out of 3 young women who grew up in Kampala, Uganda . Rachel who is 26 years old, Bonita and Joanitah who are 27 years old. All three of them are engineers and yes, they are an “all girls” team on purpose. They made this decision back in 2014 when they noticed that most teams involved in Tech development were male dominated.
From this day they set out to change that, so they decided to have an all female team so that they could inspire other girls who thought innovation was only meant for men. Although the current team is now diversified with the addition of male advisors and exceptional researchers in the field. A couple couple of years ago they invented mDex.
Well, mDex is a smartphone based, low cost, reusable, near instant point of care screening tool aimed at increasing access to Sickle Cell Diagnostic services in low resources areas. This tool comprises of a mobile application which is installed on a smartphone and a detachable lens. mDex bridges the knowledge gap and the feedback loop between the time of testing and results. This equips medical personnel with no hematology skills to screen sickle cell disease accurately to facilitate early diagnosis, thus reducing mortality rates and encouraging enrollment into sickle cell clinics for disease management.
They came up with the idea to develop mDex app in 2014, while in their third year at university they lost a mutual friend to sickle cell anemia. He was finalizing his medical school, he had a dream of improving the hospital experience for those battling Sickle Cell. Since most of them spent half their lives in emergency rooms, but unfortunately this was never realised.
AfriGalTech strongly believed they would come up with a solution and although they were not medical doctors, technology gave life to numerous impossibilities and therefore they found a solution. In the beginning it was hard for them to transition from “engineers” into “entrepreneurs” and along the way they’ve encountered a series of problems: failure to understand specific user / human needs relating to the solution, limited infrastructural and financial resources,etc…….
But they didn’t stop believing in mDex, just the idea that the world will never get to experience the immense potential and magical friendships of some of these people was constantly reminding them of why testing for the disease and sensitization must happen in order for them to work towards a cure for sickle cell disease.
AfriGalTech truly believes that increasing access to affordable sickle cell testing to the lowest resource areas will create an opportunity for much needed education and sensitization about the disease to give caretakers key information about management of the disease and affordable home care remedies, the fact that it will also help the critical early enrollment of sick babies into specialized care only keeps them going.
AfriGalTech believes many Africans still do not think Sickle Cell is an issue worthy of their concern, especially if they’ve not experienced with it first hand. Most of them will claim they do not have sickle cell in their family just because it has never manifested. The best decision is to test and GET TO KNOW YOUR STATUS as this is key in making informed decisions while choosing life partners.
AfriGalTech wants every single newborn in Uganda and eventually the world, to have access to this important assessment in the very first crucial hours of their life to guarantee them a better chance of survival and a productive life. The goal is to create a SICKLE-CELL-FREE-GENERATION.
AfriGalTech plans to join forces with other players in the industry to compile and make useful information about sickle cell disease available to every person, everywhere in the world, so that they can care better for their loved ones. They want to lead developers of healthcare innovations in the world, with a focus on low resource areas and populations at the base of the pyramid. Recently AfriGalTech was honored by URSBHQ ( Ugandan Registration Services Bureau ) for their contribution to innovative research in healthcare and they are very excited and motivated that the government recognized their efforts.
My challenge to you:
You too can help create a SICKLE-CELL-FREE-GENERATION. Get to kow your status first, once you do so send a text to 5 persons you know saying: DO YOU KNOW YOUR STATUS? do a test for sickle-cell and get to know your status for a sickle-cell-free generation
By Maria Pedro Miala