Tech-savvy youths wage cancer fight on mobile


Salim Bakari, one of the developers of the cancer app, explains how it works. PHOTO | STANLEY KIMUGE

Late cancer diagnosis due to lack of adequate information has been cited as some of the drawbacks in the fight against the disease.

However this may now become a thing of the past thanks to a new innovation. A group of three youths in Eldoret have developed a mobile platform to assist cancer patients obtain proper and correct information on the disease.

Salim Bakari, one of the developers of the app dubbed Cancer and Chronic Diseases Focus, says they found that there is a widespread lack of information on cancer among the local communities.

Through the app, they have put together crucial health information on 27 most common cancers in the country and four other chronic diseases including diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.

Mr Bakari observes that the information, comprising causes and risk factors, on these diseases is reviewed by qualified medical practitioners based at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret Hospital, and Uasin-Gishu County hospital, before it is published on the platform. This they do ensure the integrity of the information. The content developers review the content after every three months since information on health keep changing. It also has a feature that reminds a patient about medical appointments.

The app contains information on what a user needs to look out for regarding various cancers in order to seek appropriate treatment on time from qualified health-care facilities and professionals.

“We want the community to know tell-tale signs and symptoms of cancer so that they seek early treatment. For instance, should one notices something unusual in their body, they go to a hospital and get treatment,” says Mr Bakari.

The App also has a feature that allows one to be linked to various health facilities, both public and private, across the countries that offer oncology services. It uses Google map that shows the distance and time one can take to the nearest oncology centre.

The app is available on Google store, and a user can downloads and use it offline.

Miriam Kanyugo, one of the developers, says they realised many people lack basic information on various strains of cancer and other lifestyle diseases.

She notes that in most cases, a patient will not know what kind of information they need and where to get it from.

An informed community, Ms Kanyugo adds, will enable them to make timely decision in seeking medication from various health specialists.

Brian Kwendo, one of the developers of the app, says they hope to develop a feature to allow the doctor-to-doctor interaction to lower the cases of misdiagnosis.

“We intend to improve on it by coming up with images, videos and audio options and also break the scientific words into simpler words. We also plan to translate into other languages to ensure that it reaches more communities,” he notes.

Currently there are about 30 oncologists in Kenya against a population of 48,000 cancer patients, with the number of those suffering from the disease rising at an alarmingly rate.

The Globocan 2018 findings show that 47,887 Kenyans get cancer every year as 32,987 die from the disease.

Two years ago, the three Eldoret innovators also developed the HIV Factsheet mobile application to assist in tackling the disease burden among the young people who rely on social media for information. This app, which has so far reached 8,000 active users, allows the users to communicate with a health counsellor, share their experiences and facilitate access to rehabilitation centres.

A recently released UNAids report states that about 25 million people are living with HIV in Africa, and globally, 6,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected every week,.

The report, released on December 1, last year adds that in sub-Saharan Africa, four in five new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10 to 19 are girls.