iKure introduces non-Invasive Hb tests for last mile community

On a Tuesday afternoon, Shivani while returning from her field, noticed a banner in a primary school about a health awareness campaign for mothers and children. She found few of her friends waiting there too. Shivani enquired about it and came to know that the campaign was providing diagnostic tests for Hemoglobin and with a doctor consultation.

Shivani then asked them won’t it be painful? “I never had any Hb test before, but I have heard, they prick it hard and collects blood in good amount”. As she was thinking of returning back, she noticed, this Hb test was different. It neither involved a needle, nor did it collect any blood sample. Shivani decided to give it a try. And later, she revealed that she made the right choice by staying back!

That day, like Shivani, there were Urmila, Kusum and Malati who attended the health awareness campaign, availed Hb test, doctor’s consultation and discounted medicines before returning back to their home. On way back, for the first time, they discussed about their haemoglobin count and how they need to take care of themselves better.

In the rural region of North Karnataka, and West Bengal, what has changed for these women is access to life-saving diagnostic care within their community, and even their door-steps- all facilitated by iKure.

Globally, rural communities face limited access to point-of-care diagnostic tools. Incidence of anemia in rural pockets are staggeringly high, since a simple Hb test require long distance travel time to diagnostic centres or waiting in long queues in health centres. In such situation, rural women delay getting an anemia test done in the first place, with their family members pay little or no heed towards the importance of such tests.

In response to the need, iKure introduced non-invasive diagnostic tests in rural hinterland that can be conveniently used by its health workers in campaigns and during their home visits.

The diagnostic system takes the images of the lower eyelid, analyses the picture to quantify the conjunctival pallor and studies the paleness of the mucous membranes caused due to reduced amount of oxyhaemoglobin in the blood. Further, the point-of- care can be linked to patient’s smartphone via Bluetooth on which all data can be directly sent to patient as required.

The use of point-of-care technologies for quick tests is widespread in public health system, but the benefits of using them are only limited to health workers. As such device comes with minimal maintenance costs, highly portable and handy, it can be used for self-testing, testing in communities by health workers, testing in clinics and hospitals that can significantly reduce the rapid turn-around time and enable access to treatment regimens almost instantly.

Using conventional technologies in laboratories make turn-around time long and in the process patients do not return for further treatments. But, use of such point of care diagnostics in hard-to-reach communities play an important role in convincing the women community from dropping out of the existing treatment regimens and rapid testing holds prospects in improving the knowledge of the patients about their own medical situation bringing more awareness towards their dietary pattern, nutritional supplements and even in health seeking behaviour.

As iKure is aggressively involved in disseminating new technologies in its existing healthcare model that links its end-users to the higher level of care, it also works with various stakeholders like NGOs, Self-help groups to bring sustainable changes in women’s health outcomesso that do not remain entangled with their family life and complex choices.