Everyone living in the tropics is familiar with the sting of needles during malaria tests. That sting will soon be history because 24-year-old Ugandan Brian Gitta has found the solution – a smartphone bloodless malaria test!
At the prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2018 award ceremony held in Nairobi this June 2018, Brian Gitta, a software engineer emerged the best innovator of the year and won a whooping Sh3.3M. This was for his bloodless malaria test software.
Gitta stood out amongst three other finalists across Sub-Saharan Africa before the Africa Prize judges and the live audience which voted for the most promising engineering innovation.
Brian Gitta and his team testified that their inspiration came from experience. At some time in life, they missed school lectures because they were suffering from malaria. The thought of having to go to the doctor, take blood tests, wait for a while and start medication, felt like a long process that needed to be shortened. So they put their minds to work.
Brian Gitta and his team developed a device called ‘Matibabu’ [a Swahili word meaning treatment], which tests for malaria without drawing blood. This low-cost re-usable device simply clips onto a patient’s finger, requiring no specialist expertise to operate. Then a red beam of light shines through the user’s finger detecting changes in the shape, color and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. Interestingly, the results are available within one minute on a mobile phone that is linked to the device.
“We are incredibly honored to win the Africa Prize. It’s such a big achievement for us because it means that we can better manage production in order to scale clinical trials and prove ourselves to regulators,” Gitta said. “The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities – which is what we need most at the moment,” he added.
This is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It was founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom in 2014. The greatly coveted prize winner is awarded a certificate of innovation and a sum of £25,000 (Sh3.35 million). Each of the three runners-up gets £10,000 (Sh1.3 million).
We are delighted to see the youth passionate about solving challenges faced by people spread further than their continents. You too, just like Brian Gitta, you can do something great. #Rewordit