Ugandan inventor wins major prize for malaria detector
(GIN) | 6/21/2018, 12:09 p.m.
Ugandan inventor Brian Gitta, 24, has scooped a major prize for his device that detects telltale signs of malaria, the leading cause of death in his country.
In fact, Gitta developed the device, called Matibabu, after blood tests failed to diagnose his own malaria.
It took four blood tests to diagnose Gitta with the disease, said Shafik Sekitto, part of the Matibabu team in an interview with the BBC.
“Matibabu is simply a game-changer,” said Rebecca Enonchong, a judge for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and a Cameroonian technology entrepreneur.
Matibabu, which means “treatment” in Swahili, clips onto a patient’s finger and does not require a specialist to operate.
Its red beam can detect changes in the color, 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.
Matibabu still has to go through a number of regulators before being available in the market, Sekitto told the BBC.
In the meantime, the Matibabu team has been approached by international researchers offering support, and they are currently performing field trials on the device.
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 has also been awarded £25,000 ($33,000) in prize money from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
“The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities, which is what we need most at the moment,” Gitta said in a statement.