Illustration for article titled Ugandan Creates Device to Detect Malaria
Photo: iStock

It was announced on Friday that Brian Gitta, a software engineer from Uganda, has become the youngest person to receive the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

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Gitta, 24, created a device that can detect malaria, the disease that kills one child every 30 seconds (pdf). Gitta’s invention is able to detect the disease without the need to draw blood or be administered by a specialist, meaning that it won’t be necessary for medical professionals to diagnose the mosquito-borne disease, which infects 300 million to 600 million people every year.

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Matibabu, the device’s name, which means “treatment” in Swahili, operates by shining a red light on a finger to examine a person’s red blood cells. Once they are examined, the results are sent to the person’s phone.

The creation of Matibabu earned Gitta the prestigious Africa Prize, which provides support, funding, mentoring and business training to the winners. Even more remarkably, Gitta developed his award-winning device after blood tests failed to diagnose his own malaria.

Gitta will receive $33,000 as his prize as well as mentorship, funding and support.

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Congrats, Brian Gitta!

Montana Couser is a recent Howard University grad and Philly native.

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DISCUSSION

This is really incredible and extremely important to the people there. I heard him interviewed on the news and he said it’s 70% accurate at detecting malaria after a couple days and that this directly saves lives. Most people there, he said, would wait much longer to get help because th y wait for more symptoms.