In Jan 2014, I was queuing up in the Oval Café for a latte when I was asked if I would be willing to travel to Uganda a couple of weeks later to look at how YWAM could help improve IT education in the region….not really what I expected but hey, why not. After all, it was my first week with YWAM as staff and after a career in IT-related consulting this was not quite what I had expected. In my mind I was going to be working on the 6 month Discipleship Training Schools.
Fast-forward to November 2014: lots of prayer, a handful of meetings and a couple of Skype calls later and I find myself back in Kampala, Uganda. Standing in a room full of Health Science professors, the Dean of a faculty and the Vice Chancellor of the International Health Sciences University (IHSU) I was silently praying for God to take charge of our time. “Lord, break through the cultural differences and bring us together in unity behind one plan.” Amazingly, God has opened up opportunities for us to develop a new stream of education within the University using YWAM methods and models applied to Information Technology within the Health Science sector! It is worth saying that at this point the ‘us’ consisted of a small group of full-time volunteers from YWAM Harpenden led by Michael Green, partnering with a couple of amazing Health Sciences professionals in Uganda under the sponsorship of Dr. Ian Clarke.
A couple of months later – January of 2015, I met a young man called Joshua at the International Hospital Kampala (IHK). We sat in the coffee shop drinking cappuccinos as he shared his heart to improve the quality of pre-natal care. You see, the issue challenging him is that the Doppler Scanner, the machine used to listen to babies heart beat in the mothers’ stomach, costs around $600 USD, which is totally out of reach for rural clinics and midwives. Instead, they use the ear trumpet (Pinard Horn), which for very experienced nurses is fine, but for the inexperienced it is less than adequate. Simply it puts lives at risk.
Joshua took up the challenge and developed a far cheaper solution providing greater accuracy and bridging the distance between rural clinics and medical professionals located in the city. He added a directional microphone to the Pinard Horn and developed a smartphone app that will process the information. The app determines whether the baby’s heartbeat is within normal ranges or needs closer monitoring. This data can then be sent via SMS to a Dr. or midwife as a report. This is simply amazing, but how does this young man get his prototype into everyday use in rural pre-natal care?There are numerous steps to go through to make this a viable product. Clinical trials, app development, hosting, support and maintenance; product development and manufacture, marketing and sales the list goes on and on.
We are now working with Joshua and hope he will join the Business Innovation Hub, another new partnership between YWAM and the IHSU where he can access mentoring, funding and the necessary medical professionals to take his amazing innovation and put it into the hands of nurses, Doctors and Midwives all over the region. You never know what your going to get when you go to the Oval Café for coffee – you may find yourself in Kampala exploring foetal heart rate monitors and phone apps or starting a business innovation hub! God is amazing.