Using Innovation to slow down cervical cancer

Using innovation to slow down cervical cancer was written by: Emmanuel Kweyu- Deputy Director and Head of eHealth @iLabAfrica -Strathmore University.

According to WHO,(2018) cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women with an estimated  570,000 new cases in 2018 representing 6.6% of all female cancers. Approximately, 90% of deaths from cervical cancer occur in low and middle income countries. However, these mortality rates from cervical cancer globally could be reduced through a comprehensive approach that includes prevention, early diagnosis, effective screening and treatment programs.

The incidence of cervical cancer is 53 per 100,000 women in sub-Saharan Africa. Cervical cancer is caused by sexually –acquired infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccination against HPV is given to young girls of age 9-13 years old which is combined with regular screening in women over age 30 for precancerous lesions.

Through collaboration with the IBM research lab –Nairobi, @iLabAfrica has embarked on a journey to develop and implement technologies. The research center helps the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Kenya to monitor, treat, and prevent cervical cancer.  The vision of this work is to enable evidence-based decisions to tackle head on issues of disparate, incomplete and inaccurate data.  This is done through computing and use of science analytics to detect cervical cancer.

In Kenya, it is estimated that only 3.2% of women aged 18-69 years have been screened in any 3 years period. This is according to Information Centre on HPV and cervical cancer 2010. Various tests have been recommended as screening methods in Kenya. They include Visual Aspection with Acetic Acid (VIA), Visual Inspection with Lugol’s iodine (VILI) and convectional Pap smear and HPV testing.

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Emmanuel Kweyu, the deputy Director @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University has led a team of ten in a successful implementation of an Open Source Laboratory Information System (LIS) in public health hospital laboratories in Kenya. This set up is aimed at providing affordable and sustainable laboratory information system for developing countries

The IBM Research project has implemented a program that levels access and commitment of University students to their respective communities. This is done to raise awareness of cervical cancer, as well as to collect valuable data and insights into the demographics and awareness of the Big Data. This is the buzzword of the digital age, and often it is intertwined with electronic health records. It refers to enormous amounts of data which is collected, processed, and used for analytics.

When analyzed by data experts, this information has multiple benefits, such as:

Reducing healthcare costs

This uses standardized information and communication technologies that are efficient and therefore tend to reduce cost.

Avoiding preventable deaths

With early detections through the use of screening technology, the disease is captured at an early stage where if right treatment is given, the chances of survival are increased.

Improving quality of life

With use of technology to store data on patients’ information, the health practioners are in a position to respond quickly due to the past treatments and diagnosis the patient has given. This improves the general quality of the health care given in Kenya.

The application of mobile computing and communication technology is rapidly expanding in the fields of health care and public health. This systematic review summarizes the evidence for the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions for improving health and health service outcomes (M-health) around the world.  For example in the healthcare sector, data is collected and stored in huge amounts of data every single second. The cloud system is effective for storage because of its expandability and safe storage solutions.

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The Cloud then uses hardware and software to deliver services across the internet.  With this healthcare professionals and patients are both able to access certain data and use applications from any internet-enabled device – anywhere in the world cervical cancer across the country. In order to effectively incorporate the cloud system, education in higher learning institutions needs to be heightened.

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Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Media
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