At the age of 24, Brian Gitta has won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for creating a tool that can noninvasively test for malaria. After three blood tests failed to detect his own malaria, Gitta decided to come up with an effective method of testing for malaria that does not require the drawing of blood.
24yr old Ugandan software engineer wins Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Brian Gitta is 1st Ugandan to win prestigious Africa Prize & youngest winner to date.Gitta & team developed Matibabu device which tests for malaria without drawing blood
— Paul Bakibinga (@PabloBach) June 14, 2018
The finished product was an apparatus that clips onto a patient’s finger and uses a red beam to detect color changes and characteristics of red blood cells that indicate malaria. The device is able to generate a quick diagnosis that can be shared to a mobile phone and does not require a trained physician to be present. Gitta named the device Matibabu, translating to “treatment” in Swahili.
Though Gitta and his team are optimistic that Matibabu will one day become a better method of malaria detection in all of Africa, the device still has progress to make.
It is “not an easy journey because you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the device is safe for human use” – Brian Gitta.
Gitta and the group working on Matibabu are in the process of documenting their findings and have been receiving support from researchers internationally. The Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize that Gitta was awarded provided $33,000 in funding towards the project’s research, in addition to business training and mentoring.
Malaria is the leading cause of death in Uganda, and a large majority of malaria deaths every year occur in sub-Saharan Africa. If Gitta’s Matibabu proves to be an effective method of testing for the disease, it would be make a huge impact on the entire continent.