Ugandan Engineer Brian Gitta Awarded Africa's Prestigious Innovation Prize For His Bloodless Malaria Test Invention

Photo of Brian Gitta. Credit: Royal Academy of Engineering

When technology meets great innovative minds and more resources, new innovative solutions arise.

The prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation worth £25,000 (124 million Ugandan shillings) has been awarded to 24 year-old Ugandan software engineer, Brian Gitta, for his invention of a bloodless malaria test. 

The announcement was made at an awards ceremony in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, on 13 June 2018, where four finalists from across sub-Saharan Africa delivered presentations, before Africa Prize judges and a live audience voted for the most promising engineering innovation.

 Gitta is the first Ugandan to win the prestigious Africa Prize; and the youngest winner to date.

According to the Royal Academy of Engineering, Gitta and his team developed Matibabu, a device which tests for malaria without drawing blood. Matibabu, which means ‘medical centre’ in Swahili, 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.

How it works: A red beam of light shone through the user’s finger detects changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria.
The man of the moment Gitta expressed his gratitude, “We are incredibly honoured 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. The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities – which is what we need most at the moment.”

The three runners up, who each win £10,000, are:
Collins Saguru, a Zimbabwean working in South Africa, for AltMet, a low-cost, environmentally friendly method for recovering precious metals from car parts
Ifediora Ugochukwu from Nigeria for iMeter, an intelligent metering system that gives Nigerian users transparency and control over their electricity supply
Michael Asante-Afrifa, from Ghana for Science Set, a mini science lab that contains specially developed materials for experiments

Malaria is predominant in Uganda. In addition, a report by UNICEF says an estimated 300-600 million people suffer from malaria each year; while more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-risk area.

 This invention is a great deal for not only the inventor and his Matibabu team but also for millions of people affected by the mosquito-borne blood disease worldwide.

Congratulations. Here's to more inventions derived at bettering our continent and the world at large. 

The fifth Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open for applications. Individuals and small teams living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, and who have an engineering innovation, are invited to enter. Potential entrants can find more information here. The deadline for entries is 23 July 2018.

Sources: Royal Academy of Engineering/UNICEF
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