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It is no news that malaria kills thousands of people in Africa alone every year. Problems faced in the fight against malaria include not only medication, access to immediate treatment or extermination of mosquitoes, but also quick detection and diagnosis.
26-year-old Brian Gitta from Uganda has developed a device called Matibabu meaning “treatment” in Swahili. This device was developed in collaboration with other graduates with skills in engineering, computer sciences and infectious diseases.
This device is noninvasive and can detect malaria quickly without drawing blood from the patient. The inspiration for creating this device came after Gitta suffered bouts of malaria. While at the hospital for treatment, he imagined a way malaria could be diagnosed with little time and without the invasive use of needles.
According to the BBC, the machine uses magnets and a custom-made device called a matiscope which shines a red beam of light on the user’s finger, detecting a substance called haemozoin crystals, the byproduct of the malaria parasite.
Malaria Testing. Photo: Science daily
The makers believe that the device is suitable for children not just because of the absence of needles which children are afraid of, but also because it can make testing time much quicker.
The latest Matibabu model requires only two minutes to detect malaria, an improvement from the 30 minutes it takes a microscope to detect it.
The device requires connection to a smartphone, which alerts health teams of an outbreak of the disease. It doesn’t require a specialist to operate.
But there are still some challenges as the current Matibabu device detects only 80% of malaria cases and international standards accept 99%.
Gitta is concerned with the next laboratory clinical test with 300 patients to perfect the machine and improve the design.