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South African student wins competition for invention

INVENTOR: Moses Kebalepile

A SOUTH African doctoral student has developed an innovative, early warning system for asthma sufferers, which has earned him first place at an international competition.

Moses Kebalepile, a PhD student at the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, walked away with this year’s top prize at the international pitchfest held in Zurich, Switzerland.

Kebalepile used his doctoral studies to invent a medical diagnostic instrument called the Asthma Grid.

The Asthma Grid is an early warning system that predicts threats of imminent asthma attacks. In this way, asthma sufferers and their primary caregivers will not be caught by surprise when an episode of asthma happen and therefore unnecessary asthma deaths can be prevented.

Asthma is a respiratory ailment, and while common, South Africa has one of the highest asthma related deaths in the world, affecting people between the ages of 5 to 35 years-old. Of the more than 4 million South Africans suffering from this ailment-a form of bronchitis cause by allergic inflammation, 1,5% die from this condition annually.

The pitchfest takes place under the Swiss-South African Venture leaders Programme (SSAVP).

The programme is a framework providing motivation, entrepreneurial know-how and support to scientists from both countries while contributing to strengthen the cooperation between industries of South Africa and Switzerland.

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