The Acting Chair of Ashesi’s Computer Science Department, Dr. Nathan Amanquah and two Ashesi seniors, Adwoa Osei-Pianim and Kofi Manful, are working on software for mobile devices that will aid the diagnosis of skin diseases in remote parts of Ghana. The software, originally developed by a team led by MIT research fellow Don Yansen, allows nurses in the field to take pictures of patients with their cell phones, fill out a brief questionnaire, and send it to a doctor in the United States for diagnosis. Unfortunately, the original software only works on a specific brand of mobile phone. Ashesi students, Kofi Manful and Adwoa Osei-Pianim are modifying the software using Java so it can work effectively on several models of Nokia phones used commonly in Ghana.

Over the past ten years, mobile phone networks have spread across the country and can be accessed in most communities. The hope is that the software will be used by community health nurses that work in remote locations across the country, improving diagnosis and treatment of patients that often have no access to doctors.

In the future, Dr. Amanquah and his team hope to re-write the software in the Python programming language to allow the software to work more effectively on advanced smart phones. One of the challenges with the current software is the cost of sending picture data to doctors internationally. Using Python, the software will be able to imbed the pictures of patients in a GPRS message, which significantly reduces the cost of data transfer and makes the program more sustainable.

Dr. Amanquah explained, "This is a very interesting opportunity for us to create software that can improve the quality of health care in Ghana and other African countries. We hope to expand the scope of the software to help diagnose other types of medical conditions in the future."