Brian Gritta is the first Ugandan and youngest winner to win the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation.
Brian Gritta and his team developed a bloodless malaria test called Matibabu, which means ‘medical center’ in Swahili, it’s created as a low-cost, device that clips onto a patient’s finger, simple enough to be used by anybody. The results are available within one minute on a mobile phone that is linked to the device.
‘A red beam of light shone through the user’s finger detects changes in the shape, color, and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. Gitta and his team decided to develop the device after missing lectures, having had malaria several times.‘
Gitta commented: “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. The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities – which is what we need most at the moment.”
Brian Gritta won the prize of UK £25,000 (124 million Ugandan shillings) at an awards ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya on 13 June 2018. “[Gitta] brought up the idea: ‘Why can’t we find a new way of using the skills we have found in computer science of diagnosing a disease without having to prick somebody?” – Mr. Sekitto, a member of the Matibabu said.
Matibabu is currently undergoing testing in partnership with a national hospital in Uganda and is sourcing suppliers for the sensitive magnetic and laser components required to scale up production. Matibabu is aimed at individuals, health centers, and diagnostic suppliers. The team also aims to set up the device on the streets to allow people to do a single test at a time.
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 gamechanger, said Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize judge & Cameroonian technology entrepreneur.
The Africa Prize encourages ambitious and talented sub-Saharan African engineers from all disciplines to apply their skills to develop scalable solutions to local challenges, it gave out prizes to three runner-ups.
The three runners-up, who each win £10,000, are:
- Collins Saguru, a Zimbabwean working in South Africa, for AltMet, a low-cost, environmentally friendly method for recovering precious metals from car parts
- Ifediora Ugochukwu from Nigeria for iMeter, an intelligent metering system that gives Nigerian users transparency and control over their electricity supply
- Michael Asante-Afrifa, from Ghana for Science Set, a mini science lab that contains specially developed materials for experiments