A 24-year old Ugandan engineer, Brian Gitta, has been awarded $33,000, for inventing a bloodless malaria test, at the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation competition.
The device, christened Matibabu (Swahili for ‘treatment’) is low cost and reusable.
It is also self operatable and as such does not require any specialist training.
Previously, the test for malaria required taking small blood samples from suspected patients at hospitals or pharmacies.
But currently, one does not need to be pricked to get the test done.
For the device to work, it is clipped onto a person’s finger; using light and magnetism.
Afterwards, a red beam of light scans the finger for changes in colour, shape and concentration of the red blood cells.
A result is then produced within a minute and sent to a mobile phone linked to the device.
This enables the patient to tell whether he is malaria positive or negative.
Per reports, malaria alone costs Africa 1.3% of its GDP and most children under five years who die everyday because of it are in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to Unicef it infects about 300 to 600 million individuals around the world every year.
But just like Matibabu, African scientists and engineers have been at the forefront of innovations and discoveries to consign malaria to history.
In 2015, scientists in Nigeria successfully developed a product to test a patient’s urine for malaria, rather than blood test.
Scientists at the University of Cape Town also found a compound that has the potential to block human transmission of the malaria parasite.
In Burkina Faso, a low cost mosquito-repelling soap made from natural herbs has also been developed.
However, the move is to help fight malaria by 2030 as set in goal three of the UN’s SDGs.
Report by: Stephanie Horsu