Paper-based diagnostic test and phone app check children for vaccination

11 December 2013

Cambridge Consultants is working with US non-profit organisation Diagnostics For All to demonstrate a mobile phone application that can read a simple paper-based test for whether a child has been immunised.

A swab from a child’s mouth can be applied to a paper-based diagnostic device developed by Diagnostics For All, and the mobile phone is used to capture the results and report the immunity status of the child.

The diagnostics technology was developed in the laboratories of Harvard University professor George Whitesides. It uses proprietary microfluidics to turn postage stamp-sized pieces of paper into sensitive diagnostic tools at a low cost.

The combined diagnostics and phone technology has the potential to provide evidence of immunity status to all the stakeholders — from the patient and the community health worker, up to the national vaccine programme management.

The phone app and the paper-based diagnostic test

Globally, one in five children does not receive even the most basic vaccines. As a result, an estimated 1.5 million children die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. The Decade of Vaccines Collaboration — an organisation composed of leading figures from the international vaccine community — says only evidence-based, country-led prioritisation and planning can extend the benefits of immunisation services to everyone.

Marcus Lovell Smith, CEO of Diagnostics For All, said: “We needed a low-cost and portable device that could be used in conjunction with our assay to test immunisation in children. The ability to quickly and inexpensively test if a child has already been vaccinated will conserve resources and save many lives in countries around the world. The test is as simple as watching a spot on a postage-stamp-sized piece of paper change colour. By working with Cambridge Consultants, we were quickly able to demonstrate a simple and reliable method to analyse the results and transmit them using a mobile phone.”

David Chastain, programme manager at Cambridge Consultants, said, “The application of a smartphone to interpret and record this established low-cost diagnostic technology is ideal for developing countries, where mobile devices can transform healthcare delivery at the point of care. The goal of this project is to facilitate medical support in remote areas where there may be little or no access to medical facilities or trained doctors and nurses to administer the tests.”

More information

Diagnostics For All is a non-profit company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, creating innovative low-cost diagnostic solutions.

The Decade of Vaccines Collaboration is an organisation whose mission is to extend, by 2020 and beyond, the full benefits of immunization to all people, regardless of where they are born, who they are, or where they live. See


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