Uganda: Behold a mobile device to remind you to wash your hands
As more Ugandans continue to embrace the use of computers and computing skills, it is worthy to note that the times spent on computers are not only for socializing and having huge junks of non-productive information but rather gathering skills and knowledge that can be used to solve a number of issues that have rendered the country volatile for decades now. According to New vision, groups of 40 youths were given 48 hours under an initiative code-named the Hackathon, by Smile Communication sponsored by World Bank and Nokia to find solution that could save $ 177millions Government spends every year due to poor health and sanitation related issues. The outcome of the short brainstorming sessions brought a new dimension into how health related issues like Dysentery and Cholera could be minimised or reduced using digital technology in Uganda.
A team of 5 young computer programmers: Felix, Subhash, Prasma , Alice and Ambrose came together using assembled with mobile phones parts in their quest to find practical technological solutions to the health sector problem. They came up with an idea of installing a mobile phone device on a toilet wall and connected it to the taps and toilet flush leavers through an infrared sensor. The final product was a mobile device with a sensor that could enable one to count and monitor the number of users who wash their hands after using the toilet. According to Felix Mwebe, one of the innovators, the mobile device would alert the toilet user “wash your hands”
Globally, 443 million school days are lost each year due to water born disease besides huge sums of money being lost in most cities across Africa on treatment cost urged, Subhash. He further stressed that, the toilet track system intends to protect society from poor sanitation dangers more especially in link to dysentery and cholera, which remains to be among the top five major causes of morbidity and mortality in the country.
In 2008, a major dysentery outbreak was reported at Congolese refugee camps in Kanungu and Kisoro districts. The disease was contained before it spread to populations outside the camps. In 2010, a similar record of dysentery was register in the town of Ishasha and Kihiihi in Kanungu district. A scenario the district medical officer, Florence Rwabahima, linked to the contamination of major water sources in the district and continued influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Findings from, the Epidemiological Surveillance Division in the Ministry of Health, reveals that dysentery is one of the diseases with the potential to reach epidemic stages in Uganda. Saying the high incidences of dysentery reported in Uganda is recorded mostly at the onset of the first rainy season.
Dysentery and Cholera in Uganda have been strongly linked to poverty and poor hygiene and eventual outbreak of the disease, so with the invention of the toilet track system millions of Ugandans who walk away from the toilet without washing their hands will be saved with the digital device at their disposal. It is hoped the toilet track system would be piloted in hospitals and public toilets across Uganda when it is fully developed.