Ugandan scientist, Dr Misaki Wayengera has developed a rapid diagnostic test that can detect Ebola proteins in less than five minutes at the point of care in the community, a giant step in African medical innovation and in the fight against Ebola.

However, the process of developing the test kit has been marred by funding challenges and bureaucratic setbacks which threatened to derail the project.

According to New Times, Dr Wayengera did not receive financial support from the government although at the time, “the president’s office acknowledged the importance of his research for biodefence and pledged full support”.

A worker in a Personal Protection Equipment suit (PPE), typically used for protection against ebola. Photo: AFP

Through Dr Wayengera’s efforts, his research team at Makerere University College of Health Sciences eventually secured funding from Grand Challenges Canada, a non-profit initiative funded by the Canadian government. The team initially received $100,000 Canadian dollars (US$95,600) grant from the organisation before being offered a further $1.5 million by Grand Challenges Canada.

Dr Wayengera’s invention, “is the first rapid diagnostic test that is able to detect various strains of the Ebola and Marburg viruses.”

The inventor is reportedly to have applied for a patent with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 2013 and 2014.

“On average it takes about one year for a patent to be awarded by the World Intellectual Property Organisation and five years for it to be awarded by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation,” New Times reported.

The breakthrough is expected to reduce the Ebola death rate through quicker diagnosis of the diseases.

Source: New Times