The World Health Organization estimates that 90% of all malaria deaths occur in Africa. And over 200,000 African children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria.
Due to increased interventions in the past fifteen years, malaria incidence has gone down by 37% and by 42% in Africa.
Despite the progress, malaria remains a life-threatening disease killing thousands of children and pregnant women in the continent.
A new innovation could help test the disease quickly and accurately without drawing blood which is time consuming.
‘Matibabu’ which means medical center in Swahili was developed by software engineer Brian Gitta, 25, along with six student friends in Uganda.
“When a person is infected with malaria, they have parasites in their blood that breathe, feed and produce waste – one of which is magnetic,” Shafik Sekitto, 24, Matibabu’s business analyst told the Guardian. “The magnet in the device picks up on the magnet in this person’s blood and beams the results back to a computer or Smartphone.”
Matibabu has made malaria testing easier. It only takes two minutes to diagnose malaria compared to 30 minutes or more for blood test.
The innovation which is shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa prize for engineering innovation has received recognition by a number of institutions including $12,000 from the UN Women’s Empowerment award after competing for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup in 2013.
Vibration device to navigate space
In neighboring Kenya, Brian Mwenda, 21, has created a device –Sixth Sense- that is using echolocation to help visually impaired to navigate spaces with ease.
Sixth Sense borrows from the bat’s ability to navigate spaces through the use of sound and echo. The device employs ultrasonic sensors to vibrate in relation to one’s proximity to an object. The closer one gets to it, the more the device vibrates.
“I wanted to make it easier for them (his visually impaired friends) to move around so I researched all the potential devices that were available, using light or sound. I found it fascinating that bats use sound to know the exact shape of the object in front of them, and the possibility of echolocation came up.”
Like Matibabu, Sixth Sense has also been shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa prize for engineering innovation.
According to Mwenda, Sixth Sense also serves as an emergency device. Through the push of a button, a distress text message is sent to an identified contact, informing them of the user’s location.