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Teen invents robot nurse

Ugandan, Gift Mugisha’s medicine-dispensing gadget will address low nurse-patient ration in Africa and tackle drug resistance caused by failure to stick to treatment

Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoniN

Gift Mugisha, 19, from Uganda is on the verge of changing the face of medical advancements with his new invention, a medicine-dispensing robot.

Moved by 10 million global deaths caused by drug resistance and low adherence, the former Uganda Martys’ Namugongo Secondary School student decided to do something about it.

That is how Profec MP was borne. “Drug resistance is caused when patients fail to take their medicine on time, take wrong dosages, or fail to finish a course of prescribed drugs.

The danger is treatable illnesses such as pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB) becoming incurable, leading to increase in human illnesses, suffering and death, increased cost and length of treatments and increased side effects from the use of multiple and more powerful medications,” says Mugisha.

According to the World Health Organisation, in 2016, 490,000 people developed multi-drug resistant TB globally and drug resistance is starting to complicate the fight against HIV /Aids and malaria.

The robot dispenses the right medicine at prescribed times.

It sends a text message to the patient’s phone to remind them to take their drugs.

Fitted with a water reservoir, Profec also dispenses a glass of water with every dose of drugs.

“This gives the patient a chance to take a glass of water everytime they are taking their medicine, which is important for their well-being,” he says.

Apart from tackling drug resistance, the robot also addresses the low nurse-patient ratio in Africa, which currently stands at one nurse to 1,960 patients in Kenya and one nurse to 10,000 patients in Uganda.

Fitted with facial recognition capabilities, the robot can recognise a patient before it dispenses medication. This allows it to dispense medicine to multiple patients and to the right one.

“The robot serves the purpose of four nurses,” says Mugisha, adding that it has additional capabilities that enable it serve patients with hearing problems.

The prototype, which cost Mugisha $1,800 (Sh181,626.3) is also ideal for elderly patients and those suffering from dementia because it uses the voice and language of a loved one to nudge them to swallow their medicine.

“With elderly people, they want to hear replication of their past and people they love. This brings them psychological comfort,” he says. It’s surveillance capabilities will also reduce cases of patient abuse as it records videos and sends them to relevant medical officials in real time.

Profec MP is also fitted with an emergency button, which alerts a doctor or nurse when a patient needs help. “The robot uses both batteries and electricity.

The batteries make it suitable for use in rural settings while its capability to draw electric power allows it to run for two days non-stop.” The young and gifted innovator wears another feather on his hat.

He has successfully launched 20 rockets into space at twice the speed of sound ( 343 metres per second). He is currently developing an app to accompany Profec MP and is looking into creating an advanced version of the robot.

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