Joram at IHI using the OpenFlexure Microscope to image blood smears.

Malaria is a parasitic infection which kills over 500,000 people per year. The World Health Organization identifies light microscopy as the “gold standard” of malaria diagnosis, but this requires high-quality microscopes and trained technicians. We’ve worked for years to see exactly where the OpenFlexure Microscope can support this work.

In collaboration with the Ifakara Health Institute (Bagamoyo, Tanzania) and Bongo Tech & Research Labs (Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania), we’ve been investigating the screening of blood samples for malaria parasites. As our microscope can be built and maintained locally, and can be automated to scan samples, this could transform the procurement of healthcare equipment in low-resource regions.

Our engineering partners at Bongo Tech & Research Labs have produced the microscopes used in this study, which were then used by collaborators at the Ifakara Health Institute to image stained blood smears. We have amassed a large dataset of blood smear images, and demonstrated the potential for machine learning to screen such samples for normal and abnormal cells.

We are working with BTech towards the eventual goal of certification, for manufacturing microscopes for medical use in Tanzania. Other partners, including Mboalab, are investgiating similar projects in their regions.

Want to read more? Check out talks from Joram Mduda (IHI) and Paul Nyakyi (BTech) at OpenFlexureCon2022

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