Health, Africa

Innovative technology saving women’s lives in Cameroon

Screening for cancers in villages will be optimized with new features in 2020

Aurore Bonny   | 11.01.2020
Innovative technology saving women’s lives in Cameroon

BAMENDA, Cameroon

Technology invented by young doctor Conrad Tankou has made cervical and breast cancer screening easier in rural areas of Bamenda in northwestern Cameroon. 

It will undergo more innovations in 2020 as its promoter recently unveiled to Anadolu Agency.

According to figures from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, breast cancer has the highest occurrence among women in Cameroon with an age-specific ratio of 2,625 new cases per 100,000 women per year.

Cervical cancer is second with an age-specific ratio of 1,993 new cases per 100,000 women per year.

Furthermore, 95% of cancer patients in Cameroon are diagnosed at an advanced or terminal stage of the disease, while treatment options are scarce and the prognosis not very optimistic. But screening techniques for some cancers are centralized and difficult to access for people in remote areas.

Called Gicmed, Conrad's technology project was developed to solve these problems.

It spans three phases. The first began in 2017. It is based on the use of a unique and atypical device.

In particular, a telemedicine and pathology reading platform. It enables a trained doctor to collect data from patients after screening. The data is then sent to a specialist based anywhere for confirmation of a diagnosis without having to travel long distances.

According to the promoter, its impact is positive. He reported that more than 4,000 women have benefited since its launch.

"We have brought a new solution adapted to the remote areas where we are established. We noticed that for many women, screening was something new. Many of them over the age of 50 were not aware of the screening. Others regretted having to go only to the big cities to get such medical assistance," he said.

A ‘wonderful’ idea

Some doctors speaking to Anadolu Agency praised the technology.

"This is a very good idea. It's a real success in my hospital. Many women come for testing and they are surprised to know that they don't have to go to Yaounde or any far town for that. Before, they were discouraged to know that they had to go to the big cities for this kind of treatment," said Dr. Nformi Emmanuel, director of a hospital where Conrad's solution was implemented.

For Dr. Ayuvea Angelo, the idea is also "wonderful".

"Such a creation is a very good solution for people who don't have to go far to get tested. Since it was launched, women have been coming to get tested very often. It's easier," he added.

Conrad's goals remain the same. It is to improve remote diagnosis for people in remote areas and to raise awareness of the importance of screening for certain chronic diseases.

They are important because, he said, "in Africa, these diseases are poorly managed. So they gradually take hold in patients' bodies, yet the sooner they are detected, the sooner they are treated. Especially in troubled regions, where only cases such as maternity, HIV or tuberculosis are of the greatest concern."

He considers his project a Godsend. He told Anadolu Agency that 2020 will be devoted to improving it.

It will be the same technology but more developed in diagnosing other diseases easily.

"It is practically a question of upgrading the software and hardware to cover other pathologies which require microscopic diagnosis. Thus, to collect enough data to build applications that will use artificial intelligence in the third phase of the project. Because it will improve the medical services rendered," he said.

Research of solutions in medicine in Africa needs a step-by-step approach and takes prerequisites which are difficult or slowly acquired, he said.

"It is necessary to collect a maximum of data on pathologies and archiving systems to better integrate developed technologies. And we don't have enough of them on the continent. Dematerialization is still lagging behind in our medical centers. That's why we're moving forward in a progressive way," said Conrad.

But he is confident about the goods his innovation will bring.

He received several international awards for his social commitment.

In Cameroon, he is considered the doctor who serves the underprivileged. He said he is passionate about "the search for new technologies adapted to his environment and likely to solve health problems and save lives".

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