On Thursday, 15 June, 2017, the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) announced the top 10 nominees who will be competing for the 2017 Innovation Prize For Africa (IAP). Among the shortlisted people was Gift Gana a Zimbabwean who invented a computer aided diagnostic system (Dr CADx) that aims to help the medical industry understand medical images more accurately.
The IPA is a platform that brings together people across Africa to showcase their innovations in healthcare, engineering, energy and communications sectors. This year, people from countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe stand a chance to win some prizes. The grand prize is US$ 100 000 and the second prize is US$ 25 000. They also have a special prize of US$25 000 for a person who would have created something that has the most social impact. The remaining 7 nominees each receive a voucher of US$5 000. The prizes will be awarded on 18th July 2017 in Accra, Ghana.
Gift’s system aims to solve the problem of patients getting wrong or no treatment because medical images would have been misunderstood. This happens because there are not that many professionally trained people to read medical images (radiologists) on the continent, so most medical images end up being read by general doctors or others who might lack the expertise.
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Dr CADx uses a technology that simulates how the human brain works ( deep learning), to recognize patterns that are characteristic of the disease in the images. Once an image is transferred to a computer with the software installed, making a diagnosis is as easy as uploading a photo to Facebook and getting a diagnosis in a few seconds. The current prototype achieves an accuracy of 82% which is an improvement on the 70% average for radiologists.
The system is designed to work with poor internet connectivity opening it up for use in many rural settings in Africa. If developed further, it’s applications could end up being more than just in medical image recognition for disease identification. It is truly an innovative idea that aims to solve problems in the medical sector and I hope that it wins one of the top 3 innovate awards.