Saving lives with the early detection of cancer
By Renuka Sena July 25, 2016
- Many women lose their lives because malignant tumours are detected too late
- Mobecomm’s technology aims to save lives and reduce treatment costs
IN most developing countries, breast abnormalities are often identified when lumps and other symptoms are detected through breast self-examinations, and clinical observations and tests.
Unfortunately, 80% of tumours are missed as they have to reach a certain size in order to be detectable.
Sadly, many women may lose their lives because malignant tumours are often detected a little too late.
Early cancer detection saves lives and one Malaysian company – Mobecomm Technologies Sdn Bhd – is providing the technology to do just that.
Its managing director Fazilah Othman explains that the MEIK-3D Breast Screening Technology is a device that allows care practitioners to visualise and determine the presence of non-palpable cancer tumours at a very early stage.
A burning desire
Fazilah’s entrepreneurial journey began with a burning desire to touch people’s lives.
Having worked in startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations, she had gained a lot of exposure to the strengths and weaknesses of all types of businesses.
She was convinced that, with the knowledge she had acquired, she could establish a successful company.
Her main goal was to become an entrepreneur who made a difference. Fazilah’s dream began to take shape in 1998, when she met her soon-to-be cofounder, Hameed Uddin.
Hameed, who came from Canada, wanted to do business in Malaysia and provide actual technology transfer, rather than just make money. In 2001, he landed an important project which required the involvement of a local company and resource.
Fazilah was offered the opportunity to open a company as a shareholder and manage the project, which included both local and foreign experts.
After the project was successfully completed, Fazilah then ventured into several new projects in IT, telecommunications and healthcare.
The defining moment arrived in 2009, when she was introduced to breast-screening technology for the early detection of breast cancer by Sim-Technika of Russia.
When she presented the technology to her partner, he too immediately saw the benefits for women across the globe and it didn’t take long for them to decide to solely focus on this new healthcare-related technology.
As a new company, Mobecomm faced a slew of challenges. It was trying to gain traction for a brand new medical imaging technology.
With no track record, multiple rejections from stakeholders were inevitable. Convincing the medical fraternity to adopt the new technology was an uphill battle, remembers Fazilah (pic).
“Since we were dealing with cancer, sceptics abounded, but I must say that the sceptics played a significant role in our learning process,” she says.
According to Fazilah, it took about half a decade of non-stop perseverance and hard work to reach a point where the medical community began to accept Mobecomm’s technology as a breast-screening modality that complements existing modalities like the ubiquitous mammogram, ultrasound and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).
To establish its credibility, Mobecomm formed collaborations with local universities to introduce its new medical imaging modality for the early detection of breast cancer under investigational research initiatives.
With the aid of these universities, Mobecomm performed clinical trials and studies to confirm the claimed sensitivity and specificity of its device.
According to Fazilah, these early stages involved significant leaps of faith, as some medical professionals had to sign off on reports on the presence or absence of cancer in the breast, which carried immense liabilities.
Mobecomm also conducted seminars for focus groups in the medical community to introduce the technology and obtain feedback.
Then came a series of collaborations with private clinics, imaging centres and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to introduce the new technology and assist cancer patients and their families.
Mobecomm also offered over 50,000 breast screening services to the female workforce of corporations and government departments at their work premises.
Through those challenging years, the company overcame barrier after barrier, and has now succeeded in convincing many in the medical profession of the real benefits of its technology.
Driven by passion
The ups and downs sometimes took a toll on Fazilah, and she admits that there were times when she felt like giving up.
It was her business partner's support that helped her to pull through. She also held firmly to her mission to defeat cancer through early detection.
“The only reason we are still here and getting stronger after several falls is that we are driven not by revenue, but by our passion. We are determined to defeat breast cancer,” says Fazilah.
“Most of us have seen or know of someone suffering from breast cancer, and we know the pain and trauma inflicted upon not only the woman with breast cancer, but the entire family.
“This is what drives us to continue our efforts,” she adds.
This persistence has started to pay off. Mobecomm's proudest moment came when it was invited by KPJ International Group to offer breast-screening services during its medical tourism campaign in Dubai, Oman and Kuwait.
“Receiving an invitation by a group of that stature to participate in international events, shows how far we’ve come from being rejected by regular clinics whose doctors had refused to see us even after we had waited for them for hours,” says Fazilah.
Mobecomm is also proud to have trained MEIK device distributors, doctors and nurses from other countries, as this has helped establish Malaysia as a training and consulting centre for the Asian region.
In addition to gaining a Merit Award and the CIP 500 from the Cradle Fund, Mobecomm has also obtained GDPMM and ISO 9001 Certifications.
Saving lives around the world
Fazilah says the Coach and Grow Programme (CGP) played a critical role on the road to business success. The programme helped light her path through the minefield of rejections and difficulties.
Describing the CGP as highly significant, Fazilah says the programme helped Mobecomm to strategically position its product and successfully market its breast-screening services.
This gave it the impetus and confidence to forge alliances with strategic partners, and to expand its business.
It is Fazilah’s fervent hope that MEIK technology will be able to reduce breast cancer occurrence rates, improve survival rates, and reduce treatment costs in Malaysia through pre-emptive intervention and early detection.
This year, Mobecomm plans to extend its vision to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) region, and in the long-term, develop nanotechnology based on non-invasive and radiation-free pre- and early cancer detection.
Through it all, Fazilah never let go of her original vision of making a difference. She knows in her heart that the day will come when Mobecomm will save countless lives around the world.
Discover Mobecomm Technologies at www.mobecomm.com.
The above is an excerpt from the book Startups to Scaleups published in October 2015 by Cradle Fund and Proficeo Consultants, the programme manager for Cradle’s Coach and Grow Programme. DNA will be featuring every entrepreneurial story from the book in a special commercial arrangement.