Project Lead(s): Sheldon Gilmer
LMICs often lack the diagnostic tools necessary for disease detection due to: a lack of lab facilities and trained personnel, the high cost to patients, and difficulties in repairing equipment.
Instead of using lab-based tools, point-of-care (POC) screening devices are often used to measure biomarkers and enable earlier disease detection. POC devices are often lower cost and simpler to use across health worker disciplines.
POC devices can prevent blind treatment and are especially beneficial for patients in areas of weak healthcare infrastructure. UTIs in particular can be better diagnosed and managed using POC devices.
The project developed the Ukweli Test Strip for POC screening of UTIs and aimed to improve screening practices and healthcare accessibility in LMICs. The project was approved for ethics through the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the national Scientific Review Committee.
A pilot study was conducted in 16 rural and urban health facilities in the Bombali district of Sierra Leone. UTI screening took place over the course of 6 months under different pricing and sensitization.
Three outreach campaigns were maintained throughout the duration of the study.
The project screened 2800 individuals for UTIs including 2629 females and 160 males. Two locations were removed from the study due to noncompliance and falsified data.
801 individuals who were screened were directed to appropriate treatment.
64 clinic workers and 124 CHWs used the Ukweli Test Strips to conduct UTI tests. 124 health workers were able to increase their income by participating in the administration of test strips.
The results of the pilot study are being used to implement POC screening programs for diseases that usually require urinalysis, including diseases like diabetes.
The team at Lehigh University is looking to obtain a marketing license and launch the business venture portion of the project to increase the availability of the Ukweli Test Strips.