Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Like th case of Nigerian Dr Ola Orekunrin, Ugandan Brian Gitta, has found a solution to a health-related problem.
The 24-year-old software engineer has invented a device that tests for malaria without drawing blood. The invention has won him recognition and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for the device which 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.
Gitta developed the device, called Matibabu, after blood tests failed to diagnose his own malaria which caused him to miss lectures.
It took four blood tests to diagnose Gitta with the disease, Shafik Sekitto, who is part of the Matibabu team, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
“[Gitta] brought up the idea: ‘Why can’t we find a new way of using the skills we have found in computer science, of diagnosing a disease without having to prick somebody?” Mr Sekitto said.
“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.”
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 colour, shape and concentration of red blood cells – all of which are affected by malaria.
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.