Project Lead(s): Kevin O'Neill
Every minute, a child somewhere in the world dies from malaria. 90% of these deaths occur in Africa.
Across Africa a large gap in the availability of high quality malaria diagnostic technology persists, especially at the community level. This has resulted in inaccurate diagnoses and an overconsumption of anti-malarial medicines.
Amref Health partnered with Mobile Malaria Labs to develop a novel, affordable, easy to use, and reliable malarial diagnostic tool for use in Kenya.
The goal of the project was to increase the capacity of laboratories and improve the accuracy of malaria diagnoses in low-resource settings.
They developed the MOMALA-app: a mobile application that had the capacity to diagnose malaria by analyzing a microscopic image of blood film.
A field study was conducted in 6 malaria endemic locations in 2 Kenyan counties. It evaluated 3437 subjects at health facilities to measure the app’s sensitivity, specificity, accuracy and testing time. The performance of the app was compared to field and WHO-certified microscopits.
The project found that the MOMALA-app needed further refinement to improve its diagnostic accuracy. Future R&D will be necessary before rolling out the product.
The app scored lower in sensitivity (24%) and specificity (77%) compared with field microscopists (78% and 94%). This is likely attributable to the fact that field staining is not of the same quality as stains used to program the app. Time of day had no influence on the performance of the application.
Results of Usability Questionnaires showed promising results regarding the user-friendliness of the program.
Data from this study will inform future R&D and Amref Health plans to partner with relevant research groups to continue refining the product.