Tuberculosis (TB) still constitutes a major health problem in Nigeria. More than 90% of new Tuberculosis cases and deaths occur in developing countries, and Nigeria ranks 4th in Tuberculosis infection worldwide. The disease, while not commonly feared, is second only to HIV/AIDS as a leading cause of death in Africa.
Nigerian doctor, Dr. Olanisun Olufemi Adewole has invented a a non-invasive, rapid diagnostic test to detect tuberculosis. The invention, called Sweat TB Test, leverages a TB specific marker in the sweat of patients, to produce a point-of-care test to detect TB, within 10 minutes, without any needle prick. The tests also allows quick generation of reports so that patients can commence on medication as needed in the same clinic visit.
Currently, tuberculosis diagnosis is notoriously invasive, dependent only on sputum (coughed-up material from the lower respiratory tract) which sometimes may not be collectible and considered messy by patients. As well as being time consuming, patients having to make repeated clinic visits before a diagnosis is made, leading to a delay in diagnosis and even missed diagnosis of over three million TB cases and eventually, continuous spread of the disease.
Dr Adewole's invention has the potential to contribute towards effectively controlling TB, reducing TB related deaths and also holds promise to prevent drug resistant TB in Africa.
Dr. Adewole has been nominated, along with 9 other innovators from across Africa, for the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), which will see three winners share the total prize money of US$185,000 and other incentives. The event will hold in Accra, Ghana on July 18.