Phyllis took part in our 2017 yher Africa program and is the founder of M-SCAN Uganda.
By the age of seven, Phyllis knew she wanted to be in the medical field as she had a passion for helping people. She completed an undergraduate degree as a Radiologic Technologist and while studying was posted to rural health clinics in Uganda. Due to the lack of resources in these rural health clinics, Phyllis found it very frustrating to not be able to contribute as her medical background required access to expensive equipment. Without access to the resources she required, she witnessed a number pregnant women die from pregnancy complications that could have been detected early had they had access to proper equipment.
In fact, one in 19 mothers die every day due to complications related to pregnancy. Globally, 830 expecting mothers die every day due to maternal complications, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. The majority of these deaths can be detected and prevented through ultrasound. Unfortunately, ultrasound machines are not often used in these communities due to high upfront costs to purchase the units and high ongoing electricity costs.
Reflecting on her experience and these statistics, Phyllis and her team began working on a local solution that could help address this problem. M-SCAN provides affordable and portable mobile ultrasound devices (ultrasonic probes) that are laptop, tablet, and mobile phone compatible. These devices have been developed to be used for early diagnosis of risk factors of maternal mortality in environments with limited resources. By providing this technology, M-SCAN increases access to maternal healthcare for vulnerable communities in Uganda and across developing countries more broadly.
M-SCAN won $25,000 AUD in grant funding from yher, allowing them to developing additional probes for testing, conduct software customisation for use on tablets, achieve IRB approval of M-SCAN devices, fund research into the role of ultrasound in antenatal care, and finalise patenting and legal fees.
When M-SCAN came through the yher program, they had scanned 30 pregnant mothers through their pilot program and detected 3 maternal complications. Just a year later, they had increased their impact by 650% having scanned 300 mothers and detected 40+ complications. Around the same time, M-SCAN was invited to pitch at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield Africa in Lagos, Nigeria. Utilising a pitch structure taught during the yher Program, M-SCAN won the event, claiming the title of “Africa’s Favourite Startup”, and was awarded $25,000 in equity free funding.
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