Scientists at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, have designed a bead that detects pneumonia in its early stages. The beads, which are designed in the colours of the national flag, guide mothers to monitor the respiratory rate of children
Pneumonia remains the foremost cause of death in young children especially in sub-Saharan Africa. According to WHO pneumonia remains the leading infectious cause of death among children under five, killing approximately 2,400 children a day.It accounted for approximately 16 per cent of the 5.6 million under-five deaths, killing around 880,000 children in 2016. Most of its victims were less than 2 years old.
“Sometimes parents and caregivers ignore the symptoms of pneumonia until children are nearly unconscious and the disease has become severe before coming to us,” said lead researcher, Prof Daniel Ansong of the Department of child health School of Medical Sciences, KNUST.
Prof Daniel Ansong
Overall, pneumonia symptoms vary according to age, but cough, increased respiratoty rate and fever are common sysmptoms.
The scientists therefore embarked on a study aimed at training mothers who are at the very core in child health care to recognize the very early signs of pneumonia and seek care promptly.
The beads operation is based on the assumption that if a mother is able to count the respiratory rate and it falls in the green zone for a particular age then it’s normal. If it falls within the yellow then it is above normal then the mother should count again and observe.
If it falls within the red zone, the mother should count again the child’s repiratory rate and if after several counts it’s in the red then the mother should visit the hospital. An ambulance sign tellls the mother what to do.
Because some mothers have difficulties counting one minute on a clock the scientists have come out with a sand timer to interpret the results after counting.
The scientists, so far have trained over 200 mothers to detect early signs of pneumonia in children on the use of the multicoloured beads using a training video in both English and Twi.