by Nadia Gamieldien

Techno savvy

The digital era

Age of the techno era
Cellular technology assists rural areas

South African and South Korean researchers are working on making a smartphone capable of doing AIDS tests in rural parts of Africa that are the worst hit by the disease, a researcher says. Almost six million South Africans are infected with HIV, while a quarter of Swazi adults carry the virus.

 
With new cellular technology, blood samples can now be analyzed in remote areas, by use of a specialized microscope and a cellphone application. This technology aims to assist with the diagnosis of HIV and can measure the health of immune systems.
 
The proposed Smartscope, is a 1- millimeter (0.04-inch) microscope with a light which clips over a smartphone's camera. The tester then slides a standard chip with a blood sample into the gadget in front of the microscope. By using the phone application, you can photograph the sample and analyze the cells. Testers will also be able to do a CD4 cell count, a measure of white blood cells, which determines when treatment starts.
 
"Its basic function is to count those CD4 cells for diagnosis," said Kim.
The new technology is destined for AIDS treatment in remote communities in South Africa and Swaziland, where clinics often don't have the technology to do these tests effectively.
 
Jung Kyung Kim, a professor in biomedical engineering at Kookmin University in South Korea, said "Our idea was to obtain images and analyse images on this smartphone using applications,"
 
"In community health mobile technology is not a gimmick. It becomes an essential part of access," said Professor Jannie Hugo, who heads the family medicine department at the University of Pretoria, the partner in the study.
 
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