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Young Ugandan innovator wins Sh3.3m for smart bloodless Malaria test

A 24-year-old Ugandan has won Sh3.3 million shillings for his innovation of a smartphone bloodless Malaria test.

Brian Gitta, a software engineer, got the lump sum payment for winning the prestigious Africa Prize for his innovation at an award ceremony held in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Gitta beat three other finalists across the Sub-Saharan Africa who delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges. A live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.

Gitta and his team developed the device dubbed ‘Matibabu’, which tests for malaria without drawing blood.

Matibabu (Swahili word for treatment) is a low-cost, reusable device that clips onto a patient’s finger, requiring no specialist expertise to operate.

The results are available within one minute on a mobile phone that is linked to the device.

PRIZE MONEY

For a patient who is affected with malaria, a red beam of light shines through the user’s finger detecting changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria.

Gitta said together with his team they decided to develop the device after missing lectures, having fallen sick from malaria several times.

“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.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation.

The winner of the coveted prize is awarded a certificate and a sum of £25,000 (Sh3.35 million) with the three other runners up each getting £10,000 pounds (Sh1.3 million).