NRHSN 21st Birthday Ambassadors - Dr Tang and Dr Seah

Increasing rural health access 

Cooee May 2016 Eyenaemia

WILDFIRE Rural Health Club Alumni members Jennifer Tang and Jarrel Seah are the co-creators of Eyenaemia, an app that makes detecting anaemia as simple as taking a selfie.

They came up with the idea when they were medical students at Monash University. While on placement in rural Victoria, they saw a number of malnourished Aboriginal children with symptoms of anaemia.

“That got us thinking about an app that would be easy to use in places where people have to travel long distances for medical appointments,” explained Jennifer, who like Jarrel, is now working at Alfred Health.

Eyenaemia operates through a smart phone. The user takes a selfie of their lower eyelid pulled back showing the inner skin.

The photo is then sent over a secure connection to a cloud-based server, which compares the photo to a colour chart and sends a risk assessment back to the phone. Essentially, the paler the colour of the inner eyelid, the greater the risk of anaemia.

The concept has been recognised internationally, with Jennifer and Jarrel winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup in 2014 and subsequently meeting with Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Since then, development work on Eyenaemia has continued, with clinical trials of the app happening this year.

“We want to see how this goes because we have a lot of other ideas in mind,” says Jennifer.

The Eyenaemia app has the potential to make a huge impact on the lives of people in rural and remote communities throughout Australia and overseas.

Anaemia affects 1.6 billion people worldwide. It is a condition where there is a deficiency of red cells or haemoglobin in the blood. In severe cases, it can stunt a child’s growth and learning. Untreated, it can increase the risk of dying, especially in pregnant women.

Apart from malnutrition, anaemia can also be an indicator of life-threatening conditions such as malaria, HIV and bowel cancer – so early diagnosis is crucial.

Find out more about Eyenaemia and the journey of its co-creators in this video.

We hope this inspires you to think about your own opportunities to innovate and contribute to improving rural health access.