(Reuters) – Diagnosing malaria just got a step easier.
Instead of painful tests that draw blood, patients can now buy a urine malaria test (UMT) at a local pharmacy and take it at home. Nigeria’s Ministry of Health is encouraging people to use the home test kits rather than self-medicating when they have a fever.
Using the test is simple. It contains a strip that is placed in a container of urine and left to stand for 25 minutes. If two visible lines appear across the strip – the test is positive – one line means it’s negative.
Victoria Enwnemadu, helped develop the tests for Fyodor Bio-Technology.
VICTORIA ENWENMADU, GLOBAL HEAD OF PROJECTS, FYODOR BIO-TECHNOLOGY:
“Malaria elimination in Nigeria is overdue, a lot of countries have succeeded in eliminating malaria in their country and the Federal Ministry of Health is doing a lot of work to encourage proper care … I think what we bring to the table also adds value to malaria elimination. One aspect is to test before you treat, the ministry of health has been very very vocal about this.”
A pack of five test strips sells for about $12 USD. Fyodor is working on plans to make the urine test kit available in other parts of Africa and Asia as well.
Patrick Onishi is a pharmacist in Abuja and supports the government’s campaign encouraging home testing.
PATRICK ONISHI, PHARMACIST:
“The urine malaria test saves us a lot of stress, you will not prick to take the blood for test, and it is very convenient for patients, especially in children that would not want to be touched with anything like pricking or blood … it is so convenient for even the patient to run a test by himself.”
Malaria still kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, mostly babies in the poorest parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Fyodor plans to expand sales of the urine test kit to other countries in the region and Asia, hoping to cut that number drastically and stop the spread of the deadly disease.