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Microsoft Philanthropies

Kampala, Uganda, is experiencing a tech innovation boom.

The city has become a hub for young social entrepreneurs who want to use technology to improve lives in their communities. Take, for example, Joshua Okello:


All images via TakePart Live/YouTube.

As a college student, Joshua and his friend, Aaron Tushabe, developed their own ultrasound app for smartphones.

Why was this necessary? Well, Uganda struggles with high rates of infant and maternal mortality.

A lack of resources and equipment coupled with long travel distances to medical facilities has made it difficult for expectant mothers to get the health care they need. And most clinics can't afford an ultrasound machine, so the midwife at the clinic usually ends up using a 100-year-old device called a Pinard horn to monitor a baby's heartbeat.

A Pinard horn — not exactly high tech.

Joshua and Aaron figured out that by hooking up the Pinard horn to a new phone app, they could create a portable, affordable, and easier-to-use alternative. WinSenga was born.

WinSenga can diagnose, alert, and suggest courses of action for expecting moms — no big, expensive equipment required.

And while the Pinard horn is difficult to use and needs a very skilled midwife to read it correctly, much newer midwives can use WinSenga.

It's an accessible, affordable marriage between two technologies, one old and one new, that can dramatically improve care for expectant mothers.

Healthier mommas and babies? WIN.

WinSenga got a $50,000 Imagine Cup grant from Microsoft in 2012 and has gone through numerous iterations since then.

The team is currently working on the third prototype. The biggest challenge they've faced, though, says Joshua, is "finance and then mindset. There is a general mindset that things that are made in Africa are not good enough. ... As African innovators we have something really big to offer to the world stage. "


For more info about the WinSenga and to lean about another remarkable Ugandan invention — an app for diagnosing malaria — check out this video:

This article originally appeared on November 11, 2015


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Image via

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