aA Nigerian, Dr. Eddy Agbo, over the weekend emerged as one of the three winners of the Innovation Prize for Africa, winning the Special Prize for Social Impact with innovative healthcare solution to address Africa’s prevailing malaria burden.
The Innovation Prize for Africa is the landmark programme of the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) According to a statement by AIF, out of a total of 985 applications, 10 nominees were selected and from these, Dr. Valentin Agon of Benin Republic was selected overall winner, with Imogen Wright of South Africa coming second and Dr. Eddy Agbo of Nigeria winning the Special Prize for Social Impact.
The Social Impact Prize of US$25 000 was awarded to Dr. Eddy Agbo for his Urine Test for Malaria (UMT) a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.
More often than not, when fever is detected, anti-malaria medication is administered. However, not all fevers are due to malaria. Also, the inability to quickly diagnose and commence malaria treatment can lead to various complications including kidney failure, build-up of lung fluid, aplastic anaemia and even death.
But Agbo’s UMT detects malaria parasite proteins in the patient’s urine with fever due to malaria; it is simple and affordable, and a potential game changer in managing malaria and saving lives across Africa.
Meanwhile, a university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumour, suggests a large observational study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn’t go on to higher education, the data show.
The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991.They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumour and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labour market and national census data.
During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5,735 of the men and 7,101 of the women developed a brain tumour.
It has been shown that disease, especially in Africa, is a preventable cause of poverty, but remains a pressing problem in the continent.
A 2015 World Bank report states that an overwhelming 99 per cent of people who die from Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), malaria and tuberculosis (TB) live in the developing world.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the epicentre of the HIV and AIDS epidemic is sub-Saharan Africa, home to 70 per cent of all new HIV infections. Malaria kills about 660, 000 people each year, negatively impacting on African economies and households.
Economists believe that malaria is responsible for a growth penalty of up to 1.3 per cent in some African countries, hindering economic growth in the region.
Dr. Agon, a Beninoise was unanimous winner of the US$100 000 Grand Prize for his innovation Api-Palu, an anti-malaria drug treatment that has hit the market not only in Benin, but in Burkina Faso, Chad and Central African Republic (CAR).
Made from natural plant extract, Api-Palu is significantly cheaper than anti-malarial drugs currently on the market; it has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria.
Wright of South Africa scooped the second prize of US$25 000 for Exatype, a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment. Until now, national responses have focused on access to treatment for all. However, a growing number of people on ARVs are resistant to drug regimens, leading to failure of the therapy, exacerbating the continent’s HIV burden.
Exatype processes the highly complex data produced by advanced “next-generation” DNA sequencing of the HIV DNA in a patient’s blood. Through a simple report, it detects drugs that are resistant to the patient, then highlights the need to avoid these to ensure successful treatment.
By: Chukwuma Muanya
The Guardian News



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