From Waste Bottle to Effective Health Care: Manufacturing Low Cost Microscopes for the Tele-Microscopy Diagnosis

A multi-university team led by Dr. Richard Ayah, Director of the Science and Technology Park and a member of the School of Public Health, have been awarded a three-year grant from the National Research Fund to investigate and pilot a Waste to Healthcare Value Chain.

The project is based on the development of an operational manufacturing line at the Science and Technology Park.  The value chain shall operate as follows (see figure below): waste plastic bottles are collected, cleaned and shredded to standard size chips that are then passed into an extruder, producing a constant diameter plastic filament, the input raw material for the 3-dimensional rapid-prototyping printer used to manufacture the core microscope components.

The plastic microscope casings shall be integrated with purchased lens and supporting electronics to produce low cost, high resolution digital microscopes that shall be distributed to medical facilities in malarial prone areas.

Digital magnified images of blood sample slides shall be collected for remote diagnosis, overcoming current barriers to accurate routine malaria diagnosis. Different approaches shall be explored using software-based algorithms to automatically detect the malarial parasites. The low cost of the microscopes shall make them readily available across the country. 

The ability to electronically transmit the images to and the diagnosis from the remote technicians will significantly contribute to providing universal health care in the country, a key priority of the Government. Leveraging ICT in health provision is a cornerstone of the Kenya National eHealth Strategy Policy Paper 2012-2017, that seeks to “identify solutions that will effectively improve health delivery through execution of strategies that can close the health delivery gaps.”

Other members of the research team are Prof. Madara Ogot and Dr. Thomas Ochuku from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Dr. Florence Muindi from the School of Business, University of Nairobi, collaborating with Prof. George Mark Onyango from Maseno University, Dr. Esther Mungai from the Technical University of Kenya, and Nixon Amuomo from Rongo University.

From Waste Bottle to Effective Health Care: Manufacturing Low Cost Microscopes for the Tele-Microscopy Diagnosis