Swiss and Peruvian students are now working together to help beat pneumonia in Peru. Together, these students have created a mobile phone application that helps to diagnose pneumonia in its early stages.
Out in Peru´s countryside, pneumonia is a still a very common illness in children. For these remote communities, pneumonia is very difficult to treat because there are no nearby hospitals and generally their local clinics are under-funded and under-staffed.
This is what spurred the idea behind the app, the result of the collaborations between students from ETH Zurich, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and the Peruvian university Cayetano Heredia.
The app is able to diagnose pneumonia by measuring the rate of breath per minute and stores this data after it has been measured regularly over a period of days. Generally, healthy children take between 20 to 40 breaths per minute. The app compares the breathing measured compared to the average rate of breathing in healthy child to make a diagnosis.
Research assistants from the various universities visit these remote communities and teach local families and clinic personal how to properly use the app.
However, the app´s founders see the current functioning of the app as merely the beginning. According to the ETH´s Head of Mobile Systems Health Lab, ¨the priority is to expand the app functions, the more indicators in addition to the breathing rate the more reliable is the diagnosis.”