Ugandan wins major prize for developing bloodless malaria test

Ugandan wins major prize for developing bloodless malaria test

A Ugandan inventor has won a major prize for a device which tests for malaria without drawing blood.

Brian Gitta, 24, won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for a device that detects tell-tale signs of malaria by shining a red beam of light on the patient’s finger.

The diagnosis is ready to be shared to a mobile phone in a minute.

He developed the device, called a “Matibabu”, after blood tests failed to diagnose his own malaria.

Matibabu, which means “treatment” in Swahili, clips onto a patient’s finger and does not require a specialist to operate.

“Matibabu is simply a game-changer,” Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation judge and Cameroonian technology entrepreneur, said in a statement.

“It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development – in this case by improving healthcare.”

Its red beam can detect changes in the colour, shape and concentration of red blood cells – all of which are affected by malaria.

The majority of global deaths caused by malaria – usually transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito – occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gitta’s team hopes the device can one day be used as a way to better detect malaria across the continent.

But before that, Matibabu has to go through a number of regulators before being available in the market.

For his efforts, Mr. Gitta will receive £25,000 ($33,000)as part of his prize from the Royal Academy.

The prize, which was set up in 2014, provides support, funding, mentoring and business training to the winners, the Royal Academy of Engineering said in a statement.

Gitta is the first Ugandan and the youngest winner of the prestigious prize.

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