The Nigerian government is encouraging use of a new home test kit to diagnose malaria, in hopes that citizens don’t assume they have the disease and self-medicate every time they have a fever.
The simple urine test kit, containing five test strips, is available at a Nigerian pharmacy for $12 (about N3,600).
After urine is collected in the cup, the user dips a test stick in the sample and leaves it for 25 minutes. One line on the stick means the person doesn’t have malaria. Two lines indicate infection from the mosquito-borne illness.
The test kit replaces painful blood tests.
“I think that is revolutionary,” said shopper Ezinne Anyanwu, explaining that many of her family members “don’t necessarily take care of themselves well, so whenever anything is wrong [they assume] it is malaria … and so they take medications.”
Malaria is endemic in many countries, including Nigeria, and there are an estimated 425 million cases worldwide. The disease kills more than 400,000 people a year, according to statistics.
Prompt diagnosis is considered key for successful treatment.
The urine test was developed by Fyodor Biotechnology, an American company, and underwent trials in Nigeria.
“Malaria elimination in Nigeria is overdue,” said Victoria Enwenmadu of Fyodor Biotechnology. “A lot of countries have succeeded in eliminating malaria … and the Federal Ministry of Health is doing a lot of work to encourage proper care. So, I think what we bring to the table also adds value to malaria elimination. One aspect is to test before you treat.”
Fyodor Biotechnology hopes to make the test available throughout Africa and Asia.