It has long been said that sub-Saharan Africa – with its burgeoning young population and rapid technological adoption – could quickly become a hotbed of talent with answers to some of the world’s greatest challenges. This vision is increasingly within reach as forward-thinking countries like Kenya continue making great strides in access to education.
Four Kenyan students from the United States International University – Africa are already leading the charge in developing local solutions to global problems. Having been selected as one the Microsoft Imagine Cup Top 4 teams for 2021, the group believes they can help solve the critical challenge around infant mortality rates through a remote infant monitoring system called REWEBA.
REWEBA was chosen from thousands of innovative tech solutions entered into the annual competition. Teams were challenged to bring an idea to life that tackles a local or global issue in one of four competition categories: Earth, Education, Healthcare, and Lifestyle.
REWEBA, which was entered into the healthcare category, leverages IoT technology to address one of the key contributors to the region’s high infant mortality rate – namely lack of access to healthcare.
Babies are generally required to go for regular check-ups from birth until the age of 24 months to detect growth and general health issues for timely intervention. However, many parents are unable to do this – in part because of the cost of this check-up, but also because of the long distances to the health centres in rural areas.
Health centres are also often under resourced and unable to conduct necessary screenings. For this reason, team REWEBA set out to provide a solution that could take the place of the typical screening functions conducted in health centres during regular infant check-ups.
The result is an IoT-based early warning system for babies that remotely monitors infant parameters during regular post-natal screening. The IoT device is used to measure health indicators, such as weight and temperature, and then sends these measurements to doctors remotely. The solution enhances the typical screening process by monitoring body mass index and detecting the presence of skin issues. It can also be scaled to take additional measurements, such as the babies’ heart rate and breathing patterns.
This ultimately allows for immediate interventions, saving children from fatal diseases and reducing infant mortality rates.
Alongside solutions that address issues in sustainable farming, accessibility and remote learning, REWEBA will compete at the Imagine Cup World Championship later this year. From there they stand a chance to win $75,000 and mentorship with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
The team is upbeat after being selected for the Top 4. “We have no words, it means a lot,” they said. Moving forward they are excited to take their journey further through the mentorship provided by the competition and aim to give it their best.