Smart device to detect diabetes among projects under new Republic Poly healthcare solutions hub

SINGAPORE – Checking for diabetes may become easier in future with a device that can be used in the toilet, according to lecturers and students from Republic Polytechnic (RP) working on a project to detect the disease.

The team, working collaboratively with Japan’s National Institute of Technology in Nagano, is working on a device called a spectrometer, which has an infrared light that can detect glucose levels in urine.

Usually, people would prick their fingers to collect blood to be tested, said Mr Tan Wee Siong, the project manager.

He added that the product could be a non-invasive alternative for use in nursing homes or among busy working adults who want to track their glucose levels at home.

The team aims for the data collected from the spectrometer to be stored in a mobile application that can detect trends using the user’s results and send an alert if his glucose levels have been consistently high.

The spectrometer is among the various healthcare solution projects under a new Health and Wellness Hub programme that opened at RP on Tuesday (Nov 2).

Officially opened by Parliamentary Secretary for Health Rahayu Mahzam, it will help students and lecturers with the research and development of health solutions for the community.

“The establishment of the Health and Wellness Hub will be useful in reinforcing our efforts in population health and health promotion,” Ms Rahayu said.

“We want to look at health, beyond healthcare, and how we can better support Singaporeans in making healthy lifestyle choices, leading healthier lives,” she added.

A Web portal was launched at the same time, offering healthcare courses from RP’s Continuing Education and Training programme for those interested in upskilling.

The hub also includes a laboratory, whose equipment can be used in lessons for those undertaking the health management and promotion diploma. For instance, students will have access to the tools to learn how to conduct health screenings.

Mr Yeo Li Pheow, principal and chief executive of RP, said: “RP aims to be the one-stop enabler for health and wellness by working with the community and engaging healthcare industry partners to co-create solutions… and provide training for the healthcare sector.

“This will support the health needs of Singaporeans throughout their lifespan.”

Another project under the hub programme is an eco-friendly air filtration system, developed by a group of RP lecturers. The device can be used in shared areas like sickbays, quarantine premises and waiting rooms to create clean air zones, even if the area is not air-conditioned.

Principal investigator Papia Sultana said that the device can be used to reduce the transmission of airborne diseases such as Covid-19 by 70 per cent.

Ms Rahayu said: “During this uncertain and difficult period, community health issues are most pertinent and require a whole-of-society approach.

“Therefore, partnerships and community engagement remain critical.”

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