#NewsDayTuesday: Saving Kids from Pneumonia with a ‘Smart’ Jacket

By Genelle Adrien

October 31, 2017

This week’s #NewsDayTuesday spotlights the Mama-Ope, It’s a smart jacket that is helping healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa quickly and accurately diagnose childhood pneumonia. Read more in a CNN article posted last week. Photo credits: CNN

When you were a kid, your mom may have told you not to go outside without a jacket so you didn’t catch pneumonia. While colds and pneumonia come from viruses (not cold weather), she may have been on to something. Today we’re reading about a “smart jacket” called Mama-Ope that’s helping to save kids from this deadly virus.

Ugandan inventor Brian Turyabagye and his business partner Olivia Koburongo know that getting a pneumonia diagnosis wrong can be the difference between life and death. Koburongo lost her grandmother to the disease when it was misdiagnosed and treated as malaria. Unfortunately, this is common in sub-Saharan Africa. Even worse, pneumonia is a leading killer of children.

According to UNICEF, pneumonia kills nearly 1 million children under the age of five each year—that’s more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and diarrhea combined. Half of those deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

This inspired Turyabagye and Koburongo to do something. Consulting with medical engineer experts, their team created the Mama-Ope—meaning “Hope for the Mother.” Mama-Ope uses technology like a stethoscope, stretching across the whole chest and side of the patient’s body. Using Bluetooth and a mobile phone app, it sends vital statistics like body temperature, heart rate and lung condition to healthcare providers who can make an informed diagnosis.

In fact, Turyabagye claims that the technology helps eliminate human error and diagnose pneumonia three to four times faster than a doctor. This technology could be lifesaving for patients young and old.  

Really, we are looking to help the next generation. -Brian Turyabagye

While the jacket is in prototype phase, it is already considered a “breakthrough” in using technology to diagnose and treat pneumonia.

So next time your mom reminds you to put on a jacket, you can tell her how the Mama-Ope just may stop pneumonia.

Take Action Challenge

Simple interventions like routine vaccines and safe water and sanitation, along with creative innovations like the Mama-Ope can help significantly reduce childhood pneumonia deaths. And, it’s up to people like you and me to advocate for them. Sunday, November 12 is World Pneumonia Day. Learn how you spread awareness advocate for solutions to #StopPneumonia.

Share this post!