Schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases caused by the Schistosoma parasite. Within Africa, a large number of countries are affected by this parasite. 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. The Optical Smart Malaria Diagnostic research group has developed a new technology to detect parasitic infections. More specifically, this method can be used to detect the urinary Schistosoma type, called S. haematobium. Together with the Industrial Design Engineering faculty (TU Delft), Leiden University Medical Centre and Noguchi Medical Institute (Ghana), the new diagnostic device and potential usage scenarios were explored.
A Case study in Ghana
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 the main scope within this project to benchmark the current programme and seek for the opportunity for future implementation.
SODOS - The new technology
The new technology detects the parasitic infection by counting the number of eggs in urine samples. It enables faster, easier and more reliable detection than current methods and is able to add value for different types of users. The product is easy to use and maintain for remote facilities which are confronted with a lack of resources and specialist. The new device 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.
Beside the field research in Ghana, this project had a side focus on Nigeria to compare the different context variations. After developing the concept further, the implementation plan to serve other endemic countries will be considered. There are MSc students (Industrial design engineering, Biomedical engineering, System and control engineering) continuing the project.
Optical Smart Malaria Diagnostic Group l Delft University of Technology
Industrial Design Engineering l Delft University of Technology
Department of Parasitology l Leiden University Medical Centre