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South Africa’s e-health Startup, Erada, Secures $318k De Beers Grant For Malaria Diagnostics Tool

South African e-health startup Erada has received a EUR288,000 (US$318,000) foundation grant from the De Beers Group to support its saliva-based Malaria Asymptomatic and Asexual Rapid Test (SMAART) test.

The (SMAART) test developed by Erada is known as SALVA!, and is the world’s first ever saliva-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria. It includes a simple device for standardised collection of saliva, and can detect parasites circulating in an infected human before symptoms start to show, assisting in early detection of malaria.

The foundation grant from mining firm De Beers Group will be utilised in the final stages of Erada’s work prior to the product’s global launch, planned to coincide with World Malaria Day in April 2020. SALVA! will complete its field trials before full commercialisation and distribution in 2020.

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“This generous grant from De Beers Group makes it possible for Erada to complete much of our vital preparatory work before we conduct field trials and finalisation of commercialisation of SALVA!,” said the startup’s founder Dr Benji Pretorius.

“The introduction of SALVA! is going to play a major part in achieving effective diagnostic testing and surveillance; as well as 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 per cent.”

De Beers Group, which has mining operations in South Africa, Botswana, Canada and Namibia, has provided the grant through its Venetia Diamond Mine in Limpopo, close to the border with Zimbabwe and Botswana.

“Mining and exploration operations face a number of unique challenges related to exposure to endemic diseases such as malaria, emergency medical care and in some cases a lack of available 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 De Beers Group’s long history of supporting world and community health projects,” said Gerrie Nortje, general manager of the Venetia mine.

“Through this foundation grant, we are proud to be playing a pivotal early part in the eradication of one of the most pervasive and destructive diseases on the planet.”

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