By Chinyere Nwachukwu
University of Lagos (UNILAG) said it invented a new method of diagnosing malaria, following intensive research by its Department of Medical Micro Biology and Parasitology.
Prof. Wellington Oyibo, the Director, Research and Innovation of the institution, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.
Oyibo, a lecturer in the department, said the university’s research on malaria testing without the use of blood was validated in 2016.
He said that by this feat, the institution was fast becoming a clinical trial site for diagnosis in the country.
According to him, the institution has provided a platform and an enabling environment for researchers that have been providing solutions to life challenges.
The Professor of Medical Parasitology noted that having worked in the malaria space, he discovered that malaria was a major health challenge in the country.
He added that “one of the major challenges in managing the menace has to do with case management, as there are assumptions that all fevers are malaria.
“This leads to excessive diagnosis and over treatment.”
He recalled that the policy that malaria test should be done before treatment was approved since 2010, noting however, that “in spite of this policy, people are still not doing tests.
“So, one way by which we can encourage diagnosis is by introducing tests that will not require blood from patients.
“Under the new test formula, medicine retailers will be able to carry out diagnosis before dispensing drugs.
“If we keep selling drugs for a disease that does not exist, it will amount to waste of resources and patients will be suffering.’’
The lecturer said that the research was conducted in collaboration with a group of researchers in Baltimore, U.S., adding that the outcome was to diagnose malaria using urine.
He explained that “the first urine malaria test’’ has been validated.
According to him, the urine malaria test is the first clinical and global trial to be done in the world.
He said the test had been registered by both the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
He noted that the development was remarkable and ground-breaking, considering the fact that one could carry out malaria test without taking blood.
He appealed to the Federal Government to create easy access for people to test for malaria through the new approach.
This, he said, is possible by establishing testing centres in various parts of the country.
“This achievement shows that UNILAG is becoming a clinical trial site for diagnosis.
“In the past, trial test are conducted in India and Bangladesh or somewhere in Asia for Nigerians.
“But now, we are conducting tests for Nigerian patients and we are providing data and that is quite remarkable.’’
Oyibo further said that the new research breakthrough would improve malaria diagnosis and treatment.