Portable, Affordable, and Accurate Means of Assessing Hemoglobin Levels in Resource-Poor Settings (UC Berkeley)

Portable, Affordable, and Accurate Means of Assessing Hemoglobin Levels in Resource-Poor Settings
Andrew and Virginia Rudd present big ideas winners a pitch day award, April 2012.Photo credit: Blum Center

This project addresses the unmet needs of clinics serving the most at-risk populations in developing countries, where anemia is prevalent and has a great effect on treatment of other diseases. The ability to rapidly detect hemoglobin levels throughout pregnancy and during childbirth mitigates the risks associated with anemia. Working with Dr. Megan Huchko of UCSF and Nick Pearson of the non-profit Jacaranda Health, the team seeks to develop an improved method to assessing hemoglobin levels that is affordable and accessible to mobile clinics working in resource-poor areas. One current method commonly used in clinics, the WHO Hemoglobin Color Scale (HCS), uses a comparative color scale to determine hemoglobin levels. While affordable and yielding quick results, the test is based on subjective assessment from the clinician and can give inaccurate results due to variation in color interpretation and lighting. The project’s goal is to program a phone application that can measure hemoglobin concentration based on the RGB values of a digital phone image of a blood sample, allowing for the quantification of color and eliminating the ambiguities and human error.

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