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DUBAI: August 15, 2018. Over the past three years Emirates SkyCargo has delivered over 800,000 units of malaria tester kits from South Korea to Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. Now a new invention by a 24 year-old African software engineer may change all that.

Ugandan Brian Gitta has won this year’s £25,000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by developing a low-cost testing device for malaria without drawing blood. He is the first Ugandan to win the prestigious award and the youngest winner to date.

Called ‘Matibabu’, which means ‘medical centre’ in Swahili, the reusable device clips onto a patient’s finger and shines a red beam of light through the skin to detect changes in the shape, colour and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. The results are available within one minute on a mobile phone linked to the device.

Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong presents Ugandan Brian Gitta of Matibabu with the Africa Prize winners medalGitta and his team decided to develop the instrument after they kept missing university lectures due to recurring bouts of malaria.

“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,” he said. “The recognition will help us open up partnership opportunities – which is what we need most at the moment.”

Launched in 2014, the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK, is Africa’s largest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop innovations that address crucial problems in their communities.

“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,” said Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize judge. “Matibabu is simply a game changer.”

In a related move Emirates SkyCargo has delivered a record 25 tonnes of vaccines from Milan to BH airport, Bello Horizonte in Brazil on a B777 freighter. The transport is one of 80,000 pharma shipments a year, says the company.

Equivalent to about 1.8 million doses, the vaccines had to be maintained at a constant five degrees Celsius across 35 RAPe2 and one RKNe1 Envirotainer ULDs.

"Negotiations for the arrival of this shipment included the visit of technical professionals who checked the storage conditions of our chambers considered to be the latest generation," commented Peter Robbe, Belo Horizonte Airport Cargo manager. The airport has recently tripled its cool chain storage capacity to 3,500 cubic metres with the installation of two new refrigerated chambers.

Pictured: Africa Prize judge Rebecca Enonchong presents Ugandan Brian Gitta with the 2018 Africa Prize winner's medal.

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