KEMRI launches digital biometric-based vaccination for new borns

Hospital staff member scanning Newborn's finger print./COURTESY

Managing vaccination history and scheduling for children in Kenya will now be easier.

This is after the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), NEC Corporation (NEC), and Nagasaki University, Japan, developed a digital biometric-based vaccination management system for newborn children.

The digital system, being provided by NEC and KEMRI will manage vaccination history and scheduling using fingerprint identification for newborn children and voice recognition for caregivers.

“We are excited that KEMRI together with its partners, is spearheading this landmark study that identifies newborns using a biometric and a vaccination management system that is not only in real-time but is also expected to support policy and action towards the attainment of better health outcomes and Universal Health Coverage,” said Prof. Sam Kariuki, Acting Director General, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)

Validation of the system has been taking place through KEMRI with a clinical trial that began in September 2022 at the Kinango Sub-County Hospital in Kwale.

As of November 2022, data from more than 300 caregivers and newborns had been registered, including the vaccination histories of more than 150 newborns.

The new technology combines fingerprint identification for children and voice recognition for caregivers to confirm not only their identity but also to reliably manage vaccination histories and schedules, thereby promoting the implementation of appropriate vaccinations for newborns and children during the first 24 months of life.

“I expect that this vaccination management system, including newborn fingerprint biometric technology, will expand the coverage of vaccinations for children under 24 months old through accurate identification methods for mothers and children in Kenya,” said Prof. Miriam Khamadi Were, Laureate, 1st Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

“I also express great expectations for this research to act as a guideline for precise vaccination management featuring newborn and caregiver identification to become an important contributor to Universal Health Coverage,” she added.

Screenshot from the vaccination management system (vaccination data registration page)./COURTESY

The system utilizes voice recognition to identify caregivers, as well as fingerprint patterns to ensure that newborns are appropriately matched with the identified caregivers.

“Since voice recognition can be performed almost instantaneously, this system can minimize the burden placed on caregivers. Medical institutions can also introduce voice recognition with little to no change to existing procedures.”

Rather than using conventional fingerprint authentication methods to identify newborns, researchers developed a new method with which fingerprint pattern information is extracted from fingerprint images and a newborn child can be identified by combining fingerprint pattern data from multiple fingers.