A new simple urine test method for diagnosing malaria has been developed by a group of Nigerian scientists, in which people can now test themselves for the disease at home.
This makes it the first time urine, not blood, is used to test for malaria. With a urine test kit, one can diagnose malaria by merely putting a strip in a small container of urine. A line shows on the strip if one has the malaria parasite.
Regarded as a major milestone by the founders of this technology (Fyodor), it is unlike the old method which requires health personnel to carry out malaria tests.
The biotechnology firm explains that it is a one step process. You just dip a thread in the sample, leave it there for 25 minutes and read the result. It is very similar to a pregnancy test that uses urine.
The innovation gained international and local recognition after winning the inaugural 2015 Health Innovation Challenge awards in Nigeria. It was also nominated for the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) award in collaboration with the Government of Botswana.
In collaboration with Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, the new method has been introduced into the local market and there are plans to sell it across Africa and Asia. Both continents account for many of the 425 million malaria cases worldwide and the more than 400,000 deaths resulting from the ailment annually.
Medical practitioners hope that now that urine test can be done at home, it will encourage people to test and confirm it is malaria before taking drugs for the ailment.
Each year, millions die of malaria in sub-Sahara Africa because of the inability to quickly diagnose and commence treatment. Many in Nigeria are reluctant to go to hospital and be tested for malaria.
Though the Nigerian Healthcare Providers Association (NHPA) has said self-medication has a potential to lead to the abuse of malaria drugs, this is definitely a milestone to help combat Malaria in Nigeria.