Diabetes is a disease plaguing the UAE and for this reason, Mohammad Baloola, a recent graduate from Ajman University of Science and Technology (AUST), invented a remote monitoring device for diabetics.
His father, mother and brother are diabetics and his concern for the growing number of diabetics worldwide prompted his winning creation.
"Here in the UAE we have more than 350,000 diabetics, which is predicted to increase to 680,000 by 2030," he said. "This makes the UAE the second most affected country around the world where one in every five people is a diabetic."
The Sudanese national recently won a total of Dh40,000 on the Tumoohat Shabab (Young Ambitions) programme, produced by Sharjah Television. The programme encourages students and graduates to present their innovative business ideas to a panel of judges in the public arena.
Baloola took top prize in the first season of the show for his creation of an artificial pancreas and a remote monitoring system that monitors the stability of glucose levels in diabetics. The monitoring happens through a mobile hand-held device linked to a hospital database system accessed by the patients' doctors.
After his graduation in 2009, Baloola was employed as a biomedical engineering teaching assistant at the university, where he is working on producing a patentable prototype.
Baloola's invention is called "the remote monitoring and control system for diabetes patients via mobile phone". It is essentially a database controlled system to be set up in hospitals, allowing doctors to monitor diabetics through a hand-held mobile medical device kept by the patients.
"There are 86 designs of the mobile devices for patients to choose from according to their condition," he said. "The device allows diabetics to test themselves and enter their glucose levels, for example, after which the data will be sent to the hospital database."
He added that once the database receives the patients' information, if the system detects any abnormalities an emergency text message will alert doctors of the patients' location and condition. The hand-held device is approximately the size of an iPhone.
However, Baloola said the variety of the patient unit device designs configured for individual diabetics could affect the market price.
"Patients will end up buying a custom designed unit linked to their hospital's database, according to their diabetes requirements," he said. "I've tried to make a device to be sold at the same price as a normal glucose meter available in pharmacies, which usually start at Dh200."
Baloola has been working on his invention since 2008 and has travelled to the Arab Health Conference as well as other medical conferences in the US and Singapore to present his idea in front of medical industry professionals.
"The feedback I've received for my invention from diabetics, academics and medical professionals is great," he said. "They've all encouraged me to create a marketable prototype as soon as possible."