Smartphones are not just changing our lives; they are saving lives. In the developing world, cervical cancer is a leading cause of death in women, where over 270,000 lose their lives annually—that’s 9 out of 10 deaths. The sad reality is that most of these deaths are preventable through simple screening. Yet, women in these places do not have access to the care they need, which is why the innovative work of MobileODT is pivotal. It has developed a low-cost colposcope that uses smartphones to replace complex and expensive cervical screening systems.
Led by Ariel Beery and Dr. David Levitz, MobileODT created advanced optical technology to turn smartphones into a mobile, easy-to-use point-of-care tool called the Enhanced Visual Assessment (EVA) System. The System is efficient, cheaper and crucially widely available to women than the traditional screening alternatives. In 2014, MobileODT won the Vodafone Americas Foundation’s Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), providing them with a $300,000 grant to take their innovative idea to the next level.
Since winning the WIP grant, MobileODT’s EVA System has been changing lives in 21 countries, including Afghanistan. There MobileODT has started a program to train a group of Afghani obstetricians how to use the EVA System, with the potential to make a big difference. Currently, there is no cervical cancer screening program in place. Once the doctors are trained, the idea is that they will be able to provide similar training to others in Afghanistan to expand the screening program, helping prevent unnecessary deaths of women here. There are also plans to create a model where other academic medical centers can work with partner organisations to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in other regions.
In Afghanistan, most expectant mothers living in rural areas give birth to their babies at home without any medical assistance. This lack of medical care is the biggest cause of mother and child deaths during childbirth. Like the story of Zarghona, a woman who became pregnant after seven years; her first pregnancy ended in the tragic death of her baby girl in 2009. Expecting her second child at the age of 37, she was brought to the local hospital in danger of losing her second baby because of complications. Zarghona was desperate to save her baby, and because this hospital had the EVA System fetal monitor, Zarghona was able to deliver a healthy baby boy. This monitor works magically by diagnosing the conditions of the mother and baby, enabling the doctors to make the right decisions.
Last year December, MobileODT’s tool received the Food and Drug Administration’s approval in the States and the EVA System is now used as a sexual assault documentation tool. The Vodafone Americas Foundation™ designed WIP as a competition to promote innovation and increase implementation of wireless related technology for a better world. It awards a total up to $600,000 to support projects of exceptional promise; and MobileODT has been exceptional, with plans to expand their focus to use technology for other causes, such as oral cancer.
Photo Credit: MobileODT