As three medical students at Makerere University College of health sciences, we saw the plight of pregnant mothers in rural Uganda where we were posted for community placements. Many mothers succumbed to complications that arose during pregnancy. Most of these complications aggravating into death could be detected early on ultrasound and proper interventions carried out. However the health facilities didn’t have ultrasound machines, reasons; the conventional machines are very expensive, energy-intensive, bulky and sophisticated to use.We thought of developing portable mobile ultrasound devices that could work on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone to achieve ultrasound even in the low resource settings. With this, we envisaged each pregnant mother at least getting an ultrasound scan during their course of pregnancy.Whereas having an idea is one thing, actualizing it into reality is another tale. We started believing in the idea and applied for numerous grants to make it work.Our first grant was through Up Accelerate a program of the United Nations Population Fund run by Outbox innovation hub Uganda. M-SCAN emerged one of the winners of USD 10,000. Through the UpAccelerate program, we not only got money but also incubated for a period of 4 months with intense training in finance, project management, company law and policies and prototyping methodologies. This was an accelerator literally, we developed from just medical students fresh from medical school into social entrepreneurs who were to make our idea save lives, at the same time become sustainable through generating self-sustaining revenue.We had our first prototype (version one) from Uganda Industrial Research Institute, UIRI. This would only draw graphs, the graphs interpreted and fetal heart rate calculated.Our goal was however to have real time software and an ultrasound probe coupled to form real time images from which we could interpret for detection of complications of pregnancy. We were able to outsource production to Version two that would form real time images for interpretation.We have moved from version two and now on version four that has color Doppler for imaging of blood vessels.All versions have been tailored to work on mobile phones, laptops and tablets and with this, we are able to achieve and scale up use of ultrasound in low and middle income countries (LMICs).For one good turn deserves another, M-SCAN has had a share of awards from YGAP International, LEAP-2,Tech Crunch StartUp Battlefield and a Vocational Award from Rotaract Club of Kampala South.We keep to develop to reduce maternal mortality in Uganda, East Africa and Africa at large.
M-SCAN, Save a Mother, Save a Life!