Erada Technology Alliance, a South African healthtech startup has announced that it received USD 317 K in grant from the De Beers Group. The funding will be used to support the firm’s Saliva-based Malaria Asymptomatic and Asexual Test (SMAART).
The raise came directly from De Beers Group’s Venita Diamond Mine in Limpopo, in the Northern province of South Africa where the country borders Botswana and Zimbabwe.
The general manager of the mine, Gerrie Nortje, said that mining and exploration are faced with a series of challenges, especially malaria. He also cited the lack of emergency medical care in the shortage of health services.
“Our investment in a local business which has the potential to transform the lives of millions of people worldwide is a logical extension of the De Beers Group’s long history of supporting world and community health projects,” he commented.
Per an Erada official release, the grant from the foundation will come in handy in the final stages of the saliva-based test. Also called SALVA!, the test in the world’s first-ever saliva-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria.
Erada is also looking to go global, planning to do so in coincidence with the World Malaria Day next April. “SALVA! will complete its field trials before full commercialization and distribution in 2020,” the company stated.
De Beers Group, which has mining operations in South Africa, Botswana, Canada, and Namibia, has a long history of supporting community and health projects, and the impact of this investment will be felt worldwide in the fight against one of the globe’s most deadly diseases.
Worldwide, malaria kills an estimated 435 000 each year, mostly children under the age of five, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Erada Technology founder, Dr. Benji Pretorius (pictured above), said that the grant from the foundation is a significant achievement with which the startup will complete the bulk of its preparations before conducting field trials and finally commercializing SALVA!.
According to him, the introduction of the malaria test will play a huge role in achieving effective diagnostic testing and surveillance. It will as well aid “the prevention and treatment of this disease, and therefore will be a major catalyst in meeting the WHO’s 2030 target to reduce malaria incidence and mortality by 90 percent”.
SALVA! is easy to use as it includes a simple device for standardized collection of saliva that can be implemented in the community by healthcare professionals, teachers and parents; contrasting with invasive blood tests, which must be administered by trained clinicians.
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