Sync Stories: Battling Cervical Cancer in Haiti

Sync Stories is a column dedicated to our users. Each week, we showcase a different use case for BitTorrent Sync and the personal stories behind it.

In this week’s edition: Team Live Longer is using mobile technologies to diagnose and early detect cases of cervical cancer in Haiti, an approach that delivers a survival rate of over 90%.

From Louis-Joseph and team: 

Team Live Longer was established three years ago as a collaborative effort between Brooklyn-based AlexaPath and the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad (AMHE). Cervical cancer currently affects over 270,000 women a year in developing nations, making it the 4th most common cause of cancer death for women. Haiti has the highest mortality rate from cervical cancer in the world. Cases often go undiagnosed for extended periods of time due to the country’s pathology shortage. Women do not realize they are sick until symptoms present themselves, and at that point, treatment options are few. When detected early, cervical cancer has a survival rate of over 90%.

Alexapath developed mobile Whole Slide Imaging (mWSI) to address the pathology shortage in Haiti. The mWSI workflow enables doctors and lab technicians to send images of stained-glass slides digitally, providing a greater pool of pathologists to work with and decreasing wait times for results. Together with the medical expertise of the AMHE, the Team Live Longer program was launched, and TLL piloted a program where PAP smear slides are sent digitally to experts abroad for diagnosis.Team Live Longer BitTorrent SyncWith the mWSI pilot up and running, the next order of business was to find a fast and confidential way to share large files with pathologists abroad. The whole slide images created by our software are 500 MBs, relatively small compared to the file size of 2.6 GBs created by large machines from companies like Aperio and Hammatsu.  However, intermittent internet outages in Haiti made transferring files challenging. 

Dropbox and Google proved problematic as file transfers were often disrupted by outages. Transfers would have to be initiated again, resulting in lost time and delays in diagnosis. We came across Sync and decided to test it with members of our team located in India. Thanks to the packet transfer protocol used by Sync, our mWSI files transferred seamlessly, even with outages. Further, the peer-to-peer aspect of Sync allowed us to maintain the level of patient confidentiality that normally would not be afforded through a cloud-based server like Dropbox. The decision was made to use Sync in conjunction with mWSI. Team Live Longer BitTorrent SyncSync has simplified our transport workflow.  First, we set up Sync folders that are shared between our team in Haiti, Brooklyn and with doctors across America. Then, technicians in Haiti place the files in their Sync folders, which automatically update across all the devices. Pathologists open their Sync folders, view the slides and provide diagnosis. Overall, we are very satisfied with sync and plan to integrate it into the next phase of our project, which will involve iPads.Team Live Longer BitTorrent SyncLooking Ahead 

We just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the Team Live Longer project at Justinien Hospital in Cap Hatien, Haiti and hope to raise enough money to expand our pilot and create a year round cervical cancer clinic at the hospital.  The funds will pay for the doctors in Haiti to perform the tests, the lab techs that stain the slides and a new computer for the hospital.

This project has the potential to benefit nearly 400,000 women in Cap-Haitien and the surrounding Northern Department of Haiti.  Justinien is currently the only facility in this region of the country that offers PAP screening services thanks to the pilot efforts of Team Live Longer.

To support #TeamLiveLonger and their efforts in Haiti, visit the Indiegogo page:Indiegogo Team Live Longer