Charles Onu

Solution name: Ubenwa

Charles Onu

29 Years Old
General area of healthcare

Health Systems Strengthening

Innovation Category

Product or technological

Stage of Developement


Environment of use


Health problem addressed

Ubenwa aims to address the high rate of new-born mortality and morbidity resulting from late detection of Perinatal Asphyxia (PA). PA occurs when a new-born is unable to establish spontaneous breathing after birth, and is ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the top three causes of new-born mortality in the developing world. Early detection of PA is critical as it increases the chances of life-saving treatment being applied before the condition exacerbates into irreversible neurological damage. In Nigeria, and many African countries, the majority of births occur in grossly under-equipped hospitals and in the absence of skilled attendance, leading to missed diagnoses.

Detail on the solution

Charles is a health informatics researcher and software engineer. He is a PhD student focusing on Machine Learning in Healthcare at McGill University in Canada and is the CEO of Ubenwa Inc. The idea for Ubenwa emanated from his direct experience working in local communities in south-eastern Nigeria. Ubenwa is a smartphone app which determines whether or not a new-born is experiencing asphyxia by analysing a recording of their cry. The smartphone app has been tested to perform at 86% sensitivity and 89% specificity in correctly identifying and diagnosing Perinatal Asphyxia. At this level, this simple diagnosis would already represent a large improvement from the status quo in very low-resourced areas.


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