Amid the shock of the United States election result and the TB Joshua prophecy that left tongues wagging, with religious zealots taking residency on social networks, there was a beautiful story of innovation that escaped the eye and ear of many Zimbabweans.
innovators’ hub with John Mokwetsi
True to understanding a need to provide the best service for the country and even commercialise for the pocket, chief technology officer of computer-aided diagnostic system solution Dr CADx Gift Gana, is over the moon. The country should be excited as well for this genius and his team.
Dr CADx recently won Seedstars World Zimbabwe and will go on to represent the country at the finals in Switzerland next year after beating 12 other impressive start ups that pitched their ideas in Harare.
For their win, the start-up will participate at the Seedstars regional summit next month in Kigali from December 7 to 9.
Dr CADx will have an opportunity thereafter to pitch at the global summit in Switzerland next year where they will compete to win up to $1 million in equity.
It is said vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Gana told The Standard Style what Dr CADx is all about.
“We are developing a computer-aided diagnostic system to help doctors diagnose medical images more accurately in order to provide better patient outcomes and save lives, and to provide pervasive radiology diagnostics in regions which currently don’t have radiologists,” he said.
“We are using a deep neural network which is technology that simulates how the human brain works to perceive and understand features and patterns in images.”
He said Dr CADx is intended for use by and to assist medical professionals only, adding that there were regulatory issues preventing distribution to the general public.
“It will be used on the computers/tablets that doctors already use to view medical images. Say you are having chest pains and you go and see your doctor, he will order an X-ray to be taken and the digital image transferred from the X-ray machine to the doctor’s PC,” he said.
“From within the Dr CADx application, the doctor simply selects the type of analysis they want to make, uploads the image to Dr CADx servers in the cloud and after a few seconds gets the diagnosis results.”
But who is behind the idea that has excited innovators in the health sector?
The Dr CADx team consists of founders, Gana and Tatenda Madzorera. Gana has nine years of experience in software development while Madzorera is the applications specialist with six years experience in diagnostic radiography.
Dr CADx was established in August this year when Gana was encouraged by promising results in adapting the image recognition technology from his bird species recognition application to interpreting medical images. He then invited Madzorera to bring on board her medical imaging expertise.
Innovation is often given wings by necessity and this is what Gana and his team discovered.
“There is a serious scarcity of radiologists, especially in developing countries. For instance, in Zimbabwe only 15 radiologists serve a population of 14,15 million, giving a ratio of 1:940 000 as compared to 1:9 000 in the US. They do not work in public hospitals which serve the majority of the population and the scenario is the same across many African countries and some don’t have a single radiologist,” he said.
He said radiologists were human and they were not 100% perfect, which gives them limited diagnostic accuracy that averages 70%. As a result, patients fail to get the right treatment on time, resulting in undue suffering and even death.
On the thorny issue of funding: “We have just started raising capital and we are yet to get any funding. In September our prototype achieved an accuracy of 82% in distinguishing between chest X-rays of healthy people from X-rays of patients with tuberculosis and those with lung cancer. We won the inaugural Zimbabwe ICT Innovators Showcase in the same month.”
We wish Dr CADx good fortunes in Switzerland.
Do you believe innovators deserve a day in the sun? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can follow me on Twitter @johnmokwetsi and Facebook John Mokwetsi.