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Ugandan engineer wins Africa Prize for new malaria test

WINNER: Brian Gitta of Matibabu (Photo credit: James Oatway for Proof Africa/ Royal Academy for Engineering)

MEDICAL MARVEL Brian Gitta has become the first Ugandan to win the Royal Academy of Engineering's Africa Prize and the youngest winner to date.

The 24-year-old and his team developed ‘Matibabu', a device that tests for malaria without drawing blood. The low-cost invention clips on to the patient's finger and a red beam is shone through it to detect changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which is affected by malaria. In just 60 seconds, results are sent to a mobile phone that is linked to the device.

Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong said: "We are very proud of this year's winner. It's a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development, in this case by improving healthcare. Matibabu is simply a game-changer."

Gitta came up with the pioneering idea after it took medical professionals four attempts to diagnose him with malaria, the leading cause of death in Uganda.

"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," Gitta said.

He continued: "The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities, which is what we need most at the moment."

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