Matibabu: Revolutionising malaria detection

Matibabu is a smartphone application that tests for malaria without the need for blood samples and laboratories.

Every minute, a child in the developing world dies of malaria, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Early diagnosis and prompt treatment could prevent these deaths, but access to clinics in these areas is limited. That’s where Matibabu comes in. Created by malaria survivor Brian Gitta, Matibabu is an early detection system that uses smartphone technology to detect the disease without the need for blood samples and a laboratory.

Gitta, from Makarere University in Uganda, was frustrated by the constant need to be stabbed by needles each time he required medical assessment. And after contracting Malaria for the second time while battling a foodborne disease, Gitta began to formulate a plan. He needed a better, faster, prick-free way to detect the parasitic disease.

The computer science student and his friend Joshua Businge considered ways technology could be used to detect the disease. He stumbled across the idea of light sensors having been used to read the blood’s oxygen content through the skin. He recruited a group of engineering students and the prototype for Matibabu was born.

The device is still in its prototypal phase.

The device, called a matiscope, works by plugging into a smartphone. The user then puts their finger inside of the device and it detects malaria through the skin using light.

The device could revolutionise the way malaria is detected and make a significant dent in the number of malaria infections that lead to death.

Gitta and his team were recently awarded $55 000 from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni towards the completion of the project.

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