The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) has awarded The University of the South Pacific (USP) a close to 47,000FJD special grant to support its “TeleHCart” project.
The grant was awarded as part of the AUF COVID-19 action plan, which aimed to enhance the contribution of AUF member universities to the development of solutions with an immediate technological or social impact to help health systems, and populations cope with the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The USP “TeleHCart” project involved developing a telemedicine/telehealth system that will allow critical medical personnel safe access to patients without endangering or risking infection.
The idea came about following the COVID-19 outbreak in Fiji, which exposed the challenges frontline doctors faced with reaching patients amidst COVID restrictions and exhausted resources.
The project has three main objectives:
- To assess the role of telehealth in the pandemic and post-pandemic scenario in Fiji
- Design and configure a telehealth software platform that can remotely connect patients to doctors or consultants and transfer data over a stable GSM network.
- Configure and implement sensor suites onto a prototype telehealth cart to improve the accuracy of remote outpatient diagnosis. The sensor suite would be capable of measuring/observing temperature, heart rate/ECG, oxygen saturation, respiratory pattern, oral examination and blood pressure or blood sugar levels.
AUF Asia-Pacific had released the funding because of the quality of USP’s profile, which addressed critical issues in the Pacific region. This will be the second project funded by AUF. In 2021, AUF had provided funding for the AUF sponsored prototype ventilator.
USP’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Pal Ahluwalia said the University was excited to collaborate with AUF for the “TeleHCart” project to innovate solutions for the region’s health system.
“The University welcomes collaboration like this which encourages innovation that will serve our Pacific community by advancing knowledge and improving lives. I’m thankful to AUF for providing the funding and allowing our students the platform to transform and reshape the region with advanced technology.”
USP’s Senior Fellow and Project Lead, Mr Daniel Wood (Ph.D), said the School of Information Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Physics (STEMP) looked forward to working on the project.
“Following the success of the AUF sponsored prototype ventilator in 2021, our Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Departments are highly motivated to further support our medical clinicians by providing them with a telehealth cart (TeleHCart).”
“This investment by AUF represents an excellent opportunity to promote the AUF and USP partnership by providing a tailored long-term technology solution to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the growing public healthcare challenges in Fiji and the Pacific,” Mr Wood added.
Under staff supervision, STEMP final-year Mechanical and Electrical Engineering undergraduate students will manage the project. The aim is also to develop the product to be used throughout the Pacific region to offer healthcare support to vulnerable populations in remote and neglected communities.
“The students will be responsible for testing the TeleHCart under controlled lab and clinical conditions with our partner healthcare providers to see how it can be successfully implemented to maximise patient healthcare outcomes. They will also be conducting trials with international doctors to guarantee platform stability. The USP Engineering students will play a massive role in seeing this vision come to pass,” Mr Wood said.
USP is a member of the AUF, a world’s leading university network with more than 1,000 members: universities, grandes écoles, and research centres in nearly 120 countries.
You can access more information on AUF here https://www.auf.org/