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Equal health access to all – a revolutionary approach to breast and cervical cancer screening in Sub-Saharan Africa

Did you know that breast and cervical cancer are among the most common cancers affecting women in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Especially the risk of death in the case of cervical cancer is eight times higher than in high-income countries, because too many African women are diagnosed too late which hampers effective treatment and care. These late detections are due to a lack of screening and diagnosis services, scarce equipment, and a low number of qualified medical specialists. Thus, most available screening technologies are often found only in big cities and therefore difficult to access for women in remote areas.

We at GICMED want to solve this problem.

We have developed a smartphone-based service for early detection of breast and cervical cancer – saving women’s lives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To do so, we offer cutting edge and cost-effective med-tech and telemedicine innovations, enabling poor, remote and rural communities with the greatest need to enjoy affordable and accessible healthcare. This service enables rapid remote screening and diagnosis for breast and cervical cancer, with real-time pathology confirmation at the point of care. This is made possible through a mobile telemedicine platform and various portable medical devices of our own making, including a smartphone-digital microscope system, a fine needle biopsy device, and a smart speculum. These technologies enable us to offer our screening service at a very low price and at the point of care, making it affordable and accessible for women, regardless of their location or socioeconomic status.

With our newest invention – the C-Spec, we have built a smart device for cervical cancer screening, replacing uncomfortable speculums and high-cost colposcopes. We are redefining the screening process through better visibility of the cervix, more comfort and safety, thus the C-Spec serves both as a colposcope and a speculum.

Especially in rural areas, this solution enables local health facilities to provide women access to comfortable and expert-independent visual gynecological examinations. Following standard guidelines, medical data is captured by frontline nurses and sent to medical specialists anywhere in the world for instant review and diagnosis, all within 24 hours instead of several weeks. Thereby, we can drastically improve the survival rate and quality of life of women affected. In addition, we are also able to treat early-stage cervical cancerous lesions on site via a mobile treatment unit.

Our vision is to provide universal access to quality healthcare for all. Therefore, our ultimate goal is to close the healthcare gap between wealthy and poor communities through innovative and sustainable med-tech solutions that adapt well even in developing settings.

We believe that no matter who you are, where you are, and what you do – anybody can overcome barriers. Instead of complaining and criticizing the issue, go ahead and just try to come up with a solution for the problem. It really is a trial-and-error process, but it’s wort it!

So far, we have piloted our service in 23 health areas and impacted more than 10,000 women in Cameroon. Currently, we are about to enter official clinical trials to seek validation for the commercialization of our C-Spec. This encourages us to create further positive impact by extending this approach also to other fields in the future. Because if we can do this for cancer, it is also possible for many other diseases.

So together, let’s #SpecUp and overcome the many barriers that we are still facing in today’s global healthcare industry.