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1,360 mothers die each year in Sierra Leone. Ukweli is working to save these lives through point-of-care screening.

We are Ukweli Test Strips , a point of care urinalysis screening tool for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Preeclampsia. We plan to integrate our healthcare enterprise to ninety percent of Sierra Leone in three and a half years to drastically reduce their maternal mortality rate. Ukweli is specific, with three parameters and dual screening as opposed to the conventional 9 parameter strip bought in pharmacies and rarely available in rural settings. Ukweli is also affordable, at a price point of $0.02 cents as opposed to the conventional strip which costs $1.75. Finally, Ukweli is accessible, addressing last mile challenges by equipping Community Health Workers with the right tools to help screen women and cover the cost of goods sold. You can watch our campaign video for more details.

Our partner, World Hope International, has agreed to match our 6K fundraising effort.

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Ukweli Test Strips is rooted in sustainable practices, but we need your help with our overhead costs.

The word Ukweli means "truth" in Kiswahili. Ukweli has its origins in West Africa and the Pennsylvania State University and was transferred to Lehigh with Vice Provost Mehta in 2017. Ukweli is a point of care urinalysis screening tool for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) and Preeclampsia. Ukweli is specific, affordable, and accessible.

The mission of Ukweli is to make sure pregnant women in rural areas have access to the correct screening tools to monitor their pregnancy and deliver safely. The rural area we are dedicated to are northern provinces of Sierra Leone, where last mile challenges prevent pregnant women from getting the healthcare they need.

Ukweli Test Strips is an equal partnership between World Hope International and Lehigh University. We have a team of interdisciplinary students, from journalism to bioengineering, who are dedicated as the intellectual base while World Hope serves as the implementation partner. Cassidy Drost, Jordan Wolman, Zach Day, Rohan Ekambaram, Naakesh Gomanie, and Sage Herrick comprise the undergraduate team. Administrative and Principal Investigator (PI) tasks are accomplished by Khanjan Mehta and Bill Whitney. Mr. Allieu Bangura serves as the main contact for World Hope International.

Why Sierra Leone?

Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world which makes it hard for women to find accessible, quality healthcare to monitor their pregnancy. And for this reason, many women often do nothing when experiencing signs and symptoms.

In fact, 4 out of 10 expectant mothers in sub-Saharan Africa will contract a UTI during their 9 months pregnancy, and Preeclampsia is known to cause 10–15% of maternal deaths and up to 25% of stillbirths and newborn deaths in developing nations.

Unfortunately, it is difficult for women to even find out if they have a UTI or if they are preeclamptic in Sierra Leone. Screening tests for UTIs or Preeclampsia are often too expensive, too complicated to interpret or simply unavailable.

Women often stay at home unknowingly, risking both their health and the health of their own baby.

Ukweli is a social venture and therefore has high overhead costs although our business model covers the cost of goods sold.

What impact will your donation make?

$10 Produce 500 Test Strips (100 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold 1 training session to teach community health workers how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 3 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$50 Produce 2,500 test strips (500 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 9 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 16 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$100 Produce 5,000 test strips (1,000 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 16 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 33 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$500 Produce 25,000 test strips (5,000 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 80 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 167 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$1,000 Produce 50,000 test strips (10,000 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 161 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 335 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$3,000 Produce 150,000 test strips (30,000 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 485 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 1,006 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot
$6,000 Produce 300,000 test strips (60,000 women helped with the recommended 5 screenings during pregnancy)
OR: Hold up to 970 training sessions to teach community health workers throughout Sierra Leone how to administer Ukweli screenings and how to better serve their communities
OR: Provide up to 2,013 gallons of fuel, to transport test strips into rural areas that would otherwise be hours away from the nearest screening service on foot Ukweli is a social venture and therefore has high overhead costs although our business model covers the cost of goods sold.

Frequently Asked Questions

What differentiates Ukweli?

The current test strips in Sierra Leone only offer screenings for Urinary Tract Infections, whereas Ukweli’s strip currently is able to screen for both UTIs and Preeclampsia on the same strip.
Another difference between our strips and what is currently available revolves around the reading of the strips. Test strips on the market currently contain ten parameters that give readings. This makes the process of determining if a women has a UTI much more intricate and complicated than it needs to be. Ukweli’s strip only contains three parameters (Leukocytes, Nitrites, Proteinuria), making the screening of women much simpler than reading and understanding 10 different parameters.
Our product also differs on the basis of price. Ukweli has their strips produced for $0.02 each, while competitors produce their strips for roughly $1.75 a piece. This allows Ukweli to sell to health workers and then to pregnant women for a much lower price, and in a country where most people live off of about $2 a day, the lower price can be the difference between getting screened or not.
What really sets our product apart, however, is the delivery of or products to Community Health Workers. CHWs are elected volunteer health workers that operate within the communities throughout Sierra Leone. Giving our strips to the CHWs allows for the strips to be right in the community, giving pregnant women much easier access to screenings than having to potentially travel hours to pharmacies and clinics, which is where competitor strips are offered.

Why is Ukweli targeting Urinary Tract Infections and Preeclampsia?

The overall goal of Ukweli is to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone as it is one of the highest in the world. UTIs are one of the largest contributors to the high rate of maternal death because they cause spontaneous abortions and complications at birth. UTIs are also one of the more simple infections to treat but many go undiagnosed because of the lack of healthcare in rural areas.
Preeclampsia contributes to the high maternal mortality rate as well, and a condition that, like UTIs, often goes unnoticed in Sierra Leone. With Preeclampsia, a woman can experience seizures during birth, kidney and liver problems, an increased chance in postpartum hemorrhaging, and other effects that can lead to both maternal and infant mortality. It is a condition that can only be solved by birthing the child in a hospital with trained professionals to monitor her. Although there is nothing to cure preeclampsia prior to the birth of the child, screening for it allows for doctors dealing with the birth to be aware of the condition and how to handle it, meaning the woman will be able to carry out a safer and healthier birth.