Innovation That Matters

Mobile app uses light sensor to diagnose malaria

Work & Lifestyle

Ugandan start-up Matibabu has developed a non-invasive method for diagnosing malaria using a mobile application and light sensor.

Taking only 60 seconds to run the test, the Matibabu mobile application is non-invasive and sends results directly to the patient’s doctor. Once a user sets up an account, all of their malaria health history will be available in one place. The phone’s GPS location will be recorded each time a test is taken, making it easier to track sources of infection. The app also provides general preventive information and a sound-based mosquito repellent that can be turned on or off as desired.

The test works by passing light through a patient’s finger. If the sensor picks up a change in light intensity after the beam is passed through red blood cells, the results are positive. Patients can then text the results to their doctor for swift prescription pick-up. Early and accurate diagnosis is essential to the eventual eradication of the disease, and the creators of the app hope to begin saving some of the more than 800,000 sub-Saharan young children who die from the disease each year.

Mobile applications are helping make healthcare more accessible and affordable, as well as less reliant on blood tests. Anemia can now be measured using a smartphone’s light and camera, and chlamydia can now be tested for in the comfort of a patient’s own home using a small smartphone attachment. Where and how could home test data be saved and used for future access by healthcare professionals?



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