The millions of asthma sufferers can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to an innovative device which detects an imminent attack.
The instrument, called the Asthma Grid is the brainchild of young Moses Kebalepile, and it has won him first place at an international competition in Switzerland.
Kebalepile, a PhD student at the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, walked away with the first prize at the Pitchfest held in Zurich.
Explaining the inspiration behind the invention in a television interview, Kebalepile says he happened to be invited to a research group that focuses on asthma and that invitation opened opportunities for him. But closer to home, the breakthrough has personal fulfilment; his kid brother was diagnosed with asthma.
The Asthma Grid is an early warning system that predicts the threat of imminent attacks.
So how does the device work? Kebalepile says: “It measures environmental parameters like polluters and allergens, it reads oxygen saturation and other parameters like peak air flows and computes a mathematical algorithm and gives an actual output on how imminent a threat of an attack is.”
In this way, asthma patients and their caregivers will not be caught off guard when an attack occurs.
Given the huge numbers of asthma attacks and related deaths, an early warning system becomes a lifesaver. The Asthma Grid is easy to use and can be used by both patients and clinicians.
Asthma is a respiratory condition marked by attacks of the spasm in the bronchi of the lungs and causes difficulty in breathing. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath.
According to a report by the Global Initiative for Asthma, South Africa has an estimated 3.9million asthma patients and 1.5% of them die annually. SA has the world’s fourth highest asthma death rates among the five to 35 year olds.
There are over 300million people worldwide affected by asthma according to the study.
While socio-economic and other factors such as inadequate education around the disease contribute towards the aggravation of the disease, Kebalepile’s invention will play a significant role in efforts to stem unnecessary asthma deaths.