Fingerprint tech helps with healthcare

2014-03-14 14:20
Fingerprint technology is being used to limit vaccination waste in Benin. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Fingerprint technology is being used to limit vaccination waste in Benin. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Fingerprint technology is being used as a quick verification for children to ensure that vaccination waste can be eliminated in Benin.

Multispectral imaging fingerprint sensors, created by Lumidigm, helps to stop vaccination waste at clinics in the African country.

"The women are always asking for their baby's fingerprints to be taken," said Aplogan Nicephore Ange-Guy, vaccinator in Allada, Benin.

Fingerprint technology has emerged as an efficient way to ensure that people are verified for health procedures, but the technology has also been employed on ATMs in Brazil and Kenya.

While the technology is effective at verifying individuals to conduct transactions, it can be employed as a secondary verification system to reduce fraud in the collection of social welfare grants.

Sophisticated software

"There's absolutely no comparison in security between a PIN - something you know - and a biometric - something you are. A PIN can be compromised, forgotten, or dumbed down so far that it is easily guessable. You never forget your finger, and only you can use your finger! What could be more secure or convenient?" Mark Shermetaro, Lumidigm CEO told News24.

The company also employs sophisticated software to ensure that fingers read are "live" and the machine scans beyond the basic fingerprint.

In Benin the system has been installed at 31 clinics and it is expected that the technology will reduce vaccine wastage by some 50%.

Even though the cost of a vaccine is typically less than $0.50 per dose, it is pricey for impoverished African governments to afford the cost for expanding populations.

The system, known as VaxTrac, has been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which donated $695 431 to improve healthcare in the country.

The charity seeks to fight diseases like malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries and has spent large amounts of money toward achieving the goal.

"To date, we have committed nearly $2bn in malaria grants. We have also committed more than $1.4bn to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which supports the expanded use of proven prevention and treatment tools for malaria, HIV/Aids, and tuberculosis," the organisation said.

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