Dr Busisiwe Vilakazi

BVilikazi_Diagnosing patients at the point of care

Dr Busisiwe Vilakazi
Vilakazi is a senior researcher in the field of medical device development at the CSIR. She completed an MSc in engineering in 2007 at the University of the Witwatersrand. This was followed with a DPhil in biomedical engineering in 2012 as a Nelson Mandela Scholar from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Vilakazi’s current research interests include development of signal processing techniques and their application to diagnostic systems, especially in the context of medical problems.

About the talk: Her presentation will focus on the development and implementation of innovative point-of-care diagnostic devices for low-resource settings. These include technologies such as the Umbiflow diagnostic device, which helps to optimise referrals of pregnant women, the Cellnostics portable blood analyser and paper-based diagnostic solutions.

Umbiflow is a Doppler ultrasound device that can determine at the primary point of care, such as a clinic, whether a fetus that is small for gestational age is healthy or potentially sick. Fetal size is used as a simple indicator to assess the health of a fetus during pregnancy. The device detects when the placenta is no longer providing sufficient nutrients and oxygen for the baby to reach its growth potential. This information helps to guide primary healthcare givers in their decisions about whether or not to refer patients to specialist care.

The Cellnostics device performs quick and effective on-site blood tests to reduce the time between a blood test, diagnosis and subsequent treatment. It also allows for two-way communication between the clinic and central laboratories, providing results without having to transport blood samples from remote areas to these laboratories.

Vilakazi’s presentation will explore the integration of these technologies and the value derived from deployment in a single integrated site, in this case the Tshwane district. She will also discuss lessons learned related to commercialisation of these point-of-care systems.

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