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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK


Pocket-sized malaria test on sale

Malaria is one of the world's most urgent health problems

An Australian drug company has launched a rapid diagnostic test kit for two strains of one of the world's most deadly diseases, malaria.

AMRAD Corp says the pocket-sized kit can detect the plasmodium falciparum and plasmodium vivax malaria strains through finger prick samples.

Previous tests have had to undergo laboratory analysis.

Malaria kills over a million people a year and is second only to tuberculosis in its impact on world health.

One in 10

The parasitic disease is present in 90 countries and infects one in 10 of the world's population - mainly people living in Africa, India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Colombia and the Solomon Islands. There are four main types of malaria, all spread by moquitoes.

Ninety per cent of all malaria cases are in sub-Saharan Africa where it is the main cause of death and a major threat to child health.

Worldwide, a child dies of malaria every 30 seconds. Pregnant women are also particularly vulnerable to the disease.

AMRAD Corp hopes to make millions of dollars out of its test. Early diagnosis of malaria, for which there is currently no vaccine, can lead to sucessful treatment and prevent death.

AMRAD Corp already has test kits for diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

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