Opportunity Area

How might we improve demand and access to essential maternal health medicines & supplies in Uganda??

The proposed title of your idea

Phototherapy blanket for treatment of neonatal jaundice

Please describe your idea.

A rechargeable battery powered photo therapy device that uses LEDs. It is affordable and effective. It will most benefit rural populations,

What problem does your idea solve in the market?

Our idea solves the problem of high-cost photo therapy devices that are much needed to solve a common condition known as neonatal jaundice. Two, it reduces the treatment time due to double illumination concept it introduces. Three, it replaces fluorescent tubes with Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). LEDS emit much less heat and have much longer life span than fluorescent tubes. Four, it will the first phototherapy device that uses both plug power and an internal rechargeable battery in case of power outage. This is allows for it to be used in areas with unreliable power supply like in rural Uganda

Briefly explain how you identified the need or opportunity

My routines in and around hospitals as a biomedical engineering student allowed me to notice how many newborn babies were suffering with neonatal jaundice.However there was an evident problem as the devices that administered phototherapy treatment were simply not enough for all the sick babies. Many had to wait in the line for days to get the much needed treatment. This problem was observed at Mulago National Referral hospital. I then thought to myself that if this problem is experienced at the largest referral hospital in the country, then what about in the smaller less funded, less equipped hospitals all around the country? It was then that i decided i wanted to solve this problem.

Who are the beneficiaries of your solution and how will they benefit?

The beneficiaries will be neonates born with jaundice. Especially neonates who are born in health facilities that are poorly equipped. They will benefit in a way that our machine will be very cheap so will be affordable and more available in health centers that they will be admitted in. Such health facilities are most likely to be in rural areas in Uganda. In addition because treatment time will be reduced, yet as effective, we expect more neonates to get phototherapy treatment in as much time.

Why are you convinced your solution will solve the problem?

The beneficiaries of this innovation will mainly be health centers in rural areas that have very small budgets that allow for only basic medication. The low cost of our device ( Ugx 1,250,000) will enable small health centers to fit it in their budgets hence availing phototherapy treatment to the population in need.

What other initiatives like yours exist out there? How will you differentiate your solution?

Other initiatives include conventional fluorescent tube phototherapy devices, there are also new phototherapy devices that use LEDs. There is also an initiative by other researchers that constructed an aluminum tent around the phototherapy device to concentrate light. Our solution is different in two ways; it provides an alternative power source which is an internal rechargeable battery. This would enable it to be used even when there is no power (power outage). Second, our device provides illumination for both the anterior and posterior surfaces of the patient's body regardless of which position they lay in. This is because it shall have a blanket sheet that has LEDs embedded in it. This blanket sheet will cover the patient above their body hence providing double illumination.

What have you done up-to date to test your idea with potential users? What learnings do you have to share?

We have pitched our idea to the staff at the Mulago Hospital Special Care Unit for neonates. We even showed them our first prototype and explained to them how we intend for it to work. Their feedback was encouraging as they gave us mostly positive reviews. From our interactions, we learnt that our device has to leave some room for aeration by not completely covering the head of the patient. This is done to avoid suffocation. The potential users commended the fact that our device is portable enough to be used on the bedside hence eliminating the need for separation of the neonate from the mother whilst they receive treatment.

How will you financially sustain your business?

We shall rely mainly on sales to sustain our business. The cost of production of one phototherapy blanket is roughly 600,000 Uganda shillings. We intend to fix the market price of the phototherapy device at 1,250,000 Uganda Shillings. At this price we shall be able to offset expenses associated with production, advertisement and distribution and be left with enough profit margin to allow for investment in product development and also expansion of operations if need arises. Therefore it will be our duty to produce and sell as many devices as is possible.

Please share a link to a 3 minute online video that best describes your idea and team


Please tell us about each founder and their roles on the team. How do you know your founders and how long have you worked together?

Muhimbise Owen: Student of Biomedical Engineering at Makerere University. Currently in my 4th and final year Nuwabiine Pius: Also a student of Biomedical Engineering at Makerere University in 4th year. Byabagambi Tadeo: A student of biomedical engineering in the same year at Makerere University. Namiiro Alice:Also a classmate of the above mentioned students and the only female on the team.

Please tell us about other team members that are not cofounders.

Bwendero Robert: He is a student of Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering at Makerere University. He is currently in his 4th and final year. Jawad Hoballah: He is a student of Master of science in Nanotechnology at Duke University, North Carolina,USA

Which members of your team will attend the program full-time?

1.Muhimbise Owen 2. Nuwabiine Pius

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  • Owen Muhimbise
  • Posted 1 year ago
  • Modified 1 year ago