Ugandan Developers Create A Malaria Testing App


Four young Ugandan developers have come up with a Malaria testing app that will see users diagnose presence or absence of malaria parasites in their blood, without the need to visit a hospital.

Dubbed ‘Matibabu’ Swahili for ‘Treatment’, the application was developed by Code 8 team made up of Brian Gitta, Joshua Businge, Simon Lubambo and Josiah Kavuma, who were also named this year’s winners of the Imagine Cup Women’s Empowerment Award at Microsoft’s global student software competition.

The team admits that the idea to develop Matibabu was inspired by one team member, Gitta, who has suffered malaria several times, and had to undergo blood tests which involved usage of needles to draw the samples.

“I was two or three years old when I first contracted it,” Gitta told IPS, “I had to undergo lots of blood tests. I was in lots of pain and the doctor’s queue was long.”

Gitta suffered another attack in December 2012, and it was during his hospitalization period that he thought of coming up with a solution that will allow people diagnose themselves. Coupled up with his fear of needles, Gitta started working on the product.

The application uses a specially designed device which they named a matiscope, used to conduct rapid diagnostic test. A user inserts their finger into the device that uses red light to penetrate the skin to detect the red blood cells.

“It’s been shown that infected red blood cells have a different physical, chemical and biomedical structure from a normal red blood cell, hence we used light-scattering technology to determine the scatter patterns of both normal and infected cells,” Kavuma, member of the Code 8 team told IPS.

The data is sent to the user’s phone for processing, with a copy of the results also shared on Microsoft’s Skydrive service where doctors can further analyze the results.

The team plans to have the matiscope ready for the market in two years, but in the meantime, the application will be free for download.