Health, Tropical medicine

More for Less: A Break Through for those on the Frontline Fighting Malaria?

This is a blog I wrote for start up I am helping with, they are testing a technology with a huge potential in the fight against the world’s biggest killer.


Yesterday received many messages from people battling malaria on the ground. A typical example was from Juliana in Uganda, she said:

“The xRAPID is a very good innovation. It will improve and simplify Malaria diagnostics which is one of the biggest challenges of malaria treatment. I am from Uganda and our health system struggles with diagnostics because there are few laboratories as well as few competent personnel. Malaria is endemic in over 95% of the country.

“In Uganda, RDTs (Malaria Rapid Diagnosis Tests) are used at low level health facilities where microscopy can not be conducted. Use of RDTs has challenges of quality, storage, stock management and too many brands which have made RDTs inefficient…xRAPID should adequately address the weakness of RDTs and Microscopy.”

According to the World Health Organisation in 2012 32.7 million people in Juliana’s country lived in a high transmission zone. In the same year the number of confirmed cases soared from less than 10 cases per 1000 to over 70, whilst the test positivity rate remained constant. Malaria related deaths appear to be rising.

In five years up to 2012 the USAID | DELIVER PROJECT procured 77,362,340 malaria RDTs, at a cost of $42,748,752. This is the best bet where microscopy is limited, but as Juliana reminds us the results are limited.

IanXen RAPID is yet to be fully tested, but early trials suggest it is quicker, easier and much cheaper to test for malaria using automated diagnosis through the iPhone. But what of reliability?

The prototype has proven to be 98% accurate. If this is verified with industrial production this will be a real break through. It will deliver what policy makers anywhere and everywhere want – more for less. More reliable testing, for more people, more quickly – and at a fraction of the cost.

Watch this space!