Improving women’s health through technology

Written by  Mirriam Kaliza

While maternal deaths have dropped worldwide by 44%, roughly 800 women still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.

One of the  developers of the device One of the developers of the device

In Malawi, cases of birth complications remain rampant as 1 in every 10 women experience serious complications. It took the special interest of two young engineering diploma graduates from the Polytechnic to develop a smart device known as icare.


The two, Matthews Mchenula, 23 and Timothy Hara 21 studied Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering respectively.


According to one of the developers of icare device, Mchenula, the device has temperature sensor that when placed on the axillary artery of an expectant woman, it detects if the woman has normal, low or high body temperature.


“Most women suffer from what is called intrapartum fever, which leads to serious maternal and neonatal complications in pregnant mothers, so we thought we could be part of the process of making faster progress to achieve the 6 to 9 percentage annual reduction of mortality rate that is required to meet the developmental goal targets by 2030,” said Mchenula.


He further explains that they learnt that the fever that brings a lot of problems to women such as premature births, miscarriages, low-birth as well as prolonged labour among others go unnoticed due to lack of digital thermometers in health centres especially in rural areas.


Mchenula adds that icare will be able to help even in understaffed health facilities since it can be placed on a woman’s arm and keeps on monitoring the situation of the woman continuously.


Mchenula further says “icare is made of locally available materials which makes it more unique on its own and it can also be used by anyone else if need be”. Moving forward, the two say they want to develop as many devices as possible for government’s hospitals with a plea to government to support their initiative.


On his part Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said the innovation is a welcome and appreciated idea and the ministry thinks that it is the right direction to take.

“We certainly need to look at it and compare with standards and also look at the safety issues especially when it will be used to the human population, “ said Malango.



The proto type of the device


Icare device has been linked with a mobile application known as Chipatala M’manja where medical practitioners will be able to monitor blood pressure, fever, heart rate as well as intrapartum fever in pregnant women.

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