Sept. 27, 2019. BBC News: An Ethiopian student who invented an instant malaria detector has told the BBC that investors are willing to back him despite losing out to a 3D printer in a national innovation competition.
Torpout Nyarikjor, an engineer student at Dilla University in southern Ethiopia, said he was prompted to invent his device after losing his brother to the mosquito-borne disease.
‘’When I was young, I witnessed my older brother die of malaria. At the time I felt deeply sad and believed that I could one day stop it, but I didn’t know how,’’ the 24-year-old said.
Malaria claims the lives of more than 2,500 children each day in Africa, according to the UN children’s agency, Unicef.
Mr Torpout’s device is easy to use – by inserting a finger into it, laser sensors can identify whether the blood is infected or not.
“Anyone who can read can use the device,” he said.
This will mean that medication to treat malaria can be taken early, so a patient will be more likely to survive.
The new malaria detector, called “Tor”, is about 70% accurate at the moment – and the fourth-year university student is continuing work to make to it foolproof.
It won the regional level of the innovation competition organised by iCog Labs, a company based in the capital, Addis Ababa, working on artificial intelligence projects.
But he lost out in the final – and the $3,400 (£2,700) prize money – which he says is a pity as he felt his invention was more of a game changer.
However he is confident about the future.
“My dream is to be an employer not employee,” said the young man, who comes from the western city of Gambella.
He wants to return home to develop other projects involving young people with technology know how – and has great ambitions for how his device will be able to change lives.