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Within Africa, a large number of countries are affected by Schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease caused by Schistosoma haematobium. The transmission happens via water and is almost impossible to stagnate. It influences children and adults by reducing their ability to grow, learn or work on full capacity. Both the economy and living conditions of entire communities suffer from this worm, which lays its eggs in the human bladder. Ghana is an example of an endemic country in which the entire population is at risk of infection. By the support of the government, they have established a nationwide control programme, with annual Mass Drug Administration (MDA) in all the high risk areas to control the morbidity. Ghana was therefore selected as main scope within this project.

The new technology detects the parasitic infection by counting the number of eggs in urine samples. This new technology is faster, easier and more reliable than current methods and able to add value for different types of users. A literature study and three weeks of user research in Ghana revealed the diagnostic needs of five user groups: researchers, control programmes, urban hospitals and rural health facilities in low and high endemic areas.

The greatest value can be added when designing for researchers and rural health facilities. So, a product is designed to fit the main requirements of both user groups. This resulted in one product for both, but with an additional application on a tablet for the researchers: The EC (Egg Counter). The product is easy to use and maintain for remote facilities. Those areas are confronted with a lack of resources and specialist. The EC enables lower educated people to execute diagnoses and takes away the need for specific medical equipment. For researchers, the additional application will facilitate digitalised data collection. The product is robust and portable as the researchers will take it with them on field trips, for large-scale community screening. The product will be much faster than the current procedures, saving a lot of time in the field and thereby money.

The EC is designed for Ghana, with a side focus on Nigeria. With some small adjustments and a slightly different implementation plan, the same product can serve these different countries. But more development and research is required until it is suitable for implementation in the other endemic countries.

You can read the full thesis report here.