Centre for Affordable Healthcare Technologies (OxCAHT)

OxCAHT realises projects tackling societal challenges related to healthcare, education, energy, water, and poverty in low-resource settings

OxCAHT is a group of University of Oxford students, researchers, and academics based at Kellogg College who work together to realise projects tackling societal challenges related to healthcare, education, energy, water, poverty, in low-resource settings.

O×CAHT originally focused on healthcare projects that sought to leverage the community’s core strengths in telemedicine, mHealth, data mining, artificial intelligence and signal processing to improve automated diagnostics in low-resource resource areas; but we now aim to address broader societal challenges related to public service delivery, education, and sustainability in resource-poor regions. Through community meetups, expert advice, field partner matching, and funding, we aim to support selected student projects in developing & piloting their technologies abroad and grow a community of students, researchers, and faculty passionate about our mission. To summarize what we do, we:

  • Support Student Projects
  • Hold Community Meetups & Events
  • Seek to grow a community of technologists passionate about low-resource challenges

Contact the Centre

All enquiries should be sent to Melissa McCoy melissa.mccoy@gtc.ox.ac.uk

Flood Sense

Flooding causes huge losses of life and property every year and developing countries are disproportionally affected due to their lack of early detection and warning systems common in developed countries. Several multinational development agencies, notably the WHO, have made flood prevention a top priority for the next decade given its high impact and strong connection to communicable disease spread. We at Flood Sense are building off of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s work in Honduras to develop a robust, low-cost autonomous sensor network to meet this need. Our system can monitor events over large geographic regions of approximately 10,000 km2, measure a wide variety of variables contributing to the occurrence of the flooding event, survive long-term element exposure (on the order of years), recover from node losses, detect and predict the river flood, withstand the river flood, stay powered for years, require low capital and minimal maintenance costs, and handle significant computation requirements. MIT researchers have already designed the hardware infrastructure, working through several context-sensitive prototypes in Honduras, and we are now developing the flood prediction software to power it that utilizes both physical and statistical models and machine learning.

Smart Water

Improving water security through mobile communications technologies

Handpumps are critical for hundreds of millions of people in rural Africa to provide drinkable water, but an estimated one-third are broken at any given time. A partnership between the Oxford School of Geography and The Environment and Department of Engineering Science has developed data transmitters that fit in hand pumps and send text messages containing water usage data to a central server. This is made possible by the growing mobile network coverage across the developing world.

The system measures the movement of the handle to measure pump usage and estimate water flow. Data are then transmitted to a central server, and are accessible through a web interface that displays water consumption. This will enable (a) more timely and efficient repairs to be made when pumps breakdown, (b) accountability by enabling central government, donors and other stakeholders to monitor the performance of the handpump network, and (c) a detailed source of water usage data to inform future planning and investment decisions. The key features are:

  1. Sensoring unit sitting on the handpump
  2. Data transmission using telecommunication network
  3. Database and web-interface for data storage and exploitation

Heart Sounds

Low-cost remote cardiac monitoring

This project takes advantage of the high prevalence of mobile phones in areas which otherwise lack healthcare workers and facilities to create a method of remotely monitoring cardiac signals. A feasibility study is already underway, and preliminary results show that the techniques and equipment developed by the team give results similar to those expected of an electronic stethoscope.

Blood Pressure mCuff

Low-cost blood pressure monitor for developing countries

The Blood Pressure mCuff (BPmCuff) helps healthcare professionals and patients in hospital and home healthcare settings to measure blood pressure with an award-winning, low cost, connected device, specifically built for the needs of developing regions at less than one sixth of the cost of the cheapest existing devices. The BpMcuff is a device which can directly integrate to the infrastructure in the home and clinic, as well as support data transmission via cellular networks to a centralised Electronic Health Record system to give valuable statistics on disease prevalence.

Globally, hypertension is a major chronic disease and it is considered by the World Health Organization to be a leading cause of death and disability with 75% of the 1 billion people affected living in developing countries.That translates to about 1 out of every 4 adults being afflicted with hypertension. Untreated, uncontrolled, and unmonitored hypertension increases the risk of damage to the arteries, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiac illnesses.

Fetal & Maternal Health Monitoring

An affordable and easy-to-operate device to enable a more accurate extraction of fetal vitals

Our group works to help avoid one of the greatest afflictions of low and middle income countries, perinatal mortality, which has reached an estimated 2.5 million deaths in 2009. These deaths could be avoided through a better means of monitoring fetal well-being. This project aims to develop an affordable and easy-to-operate device to enable a more accurate extraction of fetal vital parameters.

Pneumonia Screening for Newborns

Building solutions to provide early diagnosis of pneumonia in infants

Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five, with 1.1 million deaths annually – more than the combined burden of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis for this age group; the majority of deaths occur in resource-limited settings. The gold standard for identification of childhood pneumonia includes a combination of physical signs (e.g. fever, chest recession and respiratory rate); cases with suspected severe pneumonia are further examined using blood culture and chest radiographs, with the latter fully dependent on the radiologist’s/clinician’s interpretation. However, some of these clinical parameters are not easily measured in a low-resource setting; moreover, basically trained health workers are often unable to obtain and interpret information from these multiple clinical sources. To address these challenges, we are working on automated algorithms for pneumonia diagnostics which combine multiple clinical signs and pneumonia related biomarkers. Next, we plan to extend this work to the design of a diagnostic device to allow a basically trained clinical worker to obtain multiple input measurements; the multiplex algorithm of the device will jointly analyse all inputs and deliver an easily interpretable diagnostic output.

What We Look For

We invite any student(s) with impactful project ideas focused on societal challenges in low-resource areas to discuss potential projects with us. You can submit your project idea at any time throughout the year and if you show good progress and stay engaged with the community,  we are happy to support you.

What We Expect

As an OxCAHT-registered project, we expect that you:

  • Come to the 1-2 Community Meetups held per term to share your project’s progress.
  • Take advantage of our experts and other support functions.
  • Contribute to the community by helping out other projects, promoting events, etc.

How We Help

Community Meetups

As an OxCAHT project, you and your team will be asked to attend 1-2 Community Meetups per term where you’ll share your progress, get advice from our mentors, and chat over food & drink.

Expert Advice

We have a network of  University of Oxford faculty members as well as greater Oxford professionals available to help you.

Funding

Through the generous support of our sponsor (ARM), we support technology development and field testing costs of our projects.

Field Partners

We help projects connect with implementation partners abroad in Latin America, Africa, and South/Southeast Asia.

Contact the Centre

All enquiries should be sent to Melissa McCoy melissa.mccoy@gtc.ox.ac.uk