In recognition of World Cancer Day, Intellectual Ventures' Global Good and biomedical technology startup MobileODT discuss a new partnership where they will develop a new version of the startup’s cervical cancer screening device.
By Celina Schocken, Maternal and Child Health Advisor, Global Good
Cervical cancer is one of the most deadly – and the most preventable – diseases in the world today. In 2016 alone, nearly 300,000 women are expected to die of cervical cancer, and the number of cases are increasing. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, about 443,000 women will die each year from cervical cancer worldwide.
Global Good recently teamed up with MobileODT, a company based in Tel-Aviv, Israel, to develop a new version of their cervical cancer screening device. Global Good is a collaboration between Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures aimed at developing technology solutions to some of the world’s most difficult health and development problems.
There are very few cases of cervical cancer in developed countries like the United States. This is because the disease grows very slowly, and with routine screening from Pap smears and HPV tests, doctors identify women and treat them before they become sick. Also, recently available HPV vaccines are preventing vaccinated women from developing cancer.
Unfortunately, in developing countries around the world, cervical cancer is often the leading cause of cancer deaths for women.
The MobileODT device combines a cell phone, with a special light and other features, to make it easier for health workers to examine a woman’s cervix for signs of cancer. When signs of early cancer are detected, there are low-cost ways to treat women in developing countries.
The MobileODT device is already being used around the world - in Kenya, El Salvador, Rwanda and Haiti. Global Good and MobileODT will work together to make the device even easier for health workers to use. Global Good will create an algorithm that identifies potential cancers, and shows the health worker exactly where to look to confirm a diagnosis.
Health workers and patients love the MobileODT device. Nurses had been using a lamp or a flashlight for visualization of the cervix until they knew about the enhanced visual assessment technology by MobileODT.
“It (the device) was making my work easy, to see many clients and to come up with a diagnosis as fast as possible,” said Beatrice, a county government nurse clinician in Kenya. “It enhances visualization of the cervix whereby you don’t need any additional light. And they (the patients) also appreciate the need to be tested early. So that will make our intervention put in place early so that our prognosis for cervical cancer will be good.”
Triza, a patient screened in Kenya, said “I was a bit nervous, but I’m just happy to know… my cervix is OK.”
Use of the MobileODT device also improves confidence in the health care system, because women can see a photo of their cervix and trust that they were properly screened.
“Global Good and MobileODT look forward to seeing an impact on access to cervical screening through their partnership, providing a critical tool to allow health workers to bring better care in this greatly neglected area,” said David Bell, head of Global Health Technologies at Global Good.
1. WHO, Health Statistics and Information Systems. Projections of mortality and causes of death 2015–2030. Available at: www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/projections/en/.