Beyond the litmus test

Paper-based sensors for diagnostics
South Africa (Pretoria)

There isn’t a magic pill to cure the world’s diseases, and there isn’t a one size fits all solution for diagnosing them. Many of the diagnostic tools that are imported into South Africa are too slow, bulky or expensive for the needs of the majority, especially those in geographically and economically excluded communities.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has stepped in, developing paper-based diagnostic tools to rapidly diagnose health and environmental threats. Using advanced printing techniques such as wax printing, chemicals, or printing conductive materials onto paper, CSIR is creating tests that provide visual, mechanical or electrical diagnostic signals. Cheap, fast, and accurate, these tools can be used for testing for common health and environmental hazards in the region, such as TB or unsafe drinking water.

Written by

Claire Proudfoot (25 September 2015)


Claire Proudfoot is an international producer/ director based in London. The South African spends most of her time making content in sub-Saharan Africa about tech, healthcare and gender.

Project leader

Kevin John Land, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

Tags: 3D printing.

Support the Atlas

We want the Atlas of the Future media platform and our event to be available to everybody, everywhere for free – always. Fancy helping us spread stories of hope and optimism to create a better tomorrow? For those able, we'd be grateful for any donation.

Creative Commons License



Take me somewhere
Take me somewhere
Data Protection Act: LOPD.
In compliance with Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 of December, on Personal Data Protection, and the development of Rules of Procedure, approved by Royal Decree 1720/2007, of 21 of December, Atlas of the Future subscribers may be required to provide Personal Data, which will be included in a file owned by Democratising The Future Society SL. Such file is duly incorporated in the Spanish Data Protection Agency and protected in compliance with the security measures established in the applicable legislation. Subscribers may exercise, at any time, their rights of access, rectification, cancellation and/or opposition regarding their Personal Data. The subscriber shall notice their will, either under written form addressed to Democratising The Future Society SL, Ref. LOPD, Calabria, 10 6-3 08015 - Barcelona (Spain) and/or by e-mail, clicking here. Also, the subscriber shall communicate Atlas of the Future any modifications of their Personal Data stored, so that the information stored by Atlas of the Future remains at all times updated and error-free.
Get World-changing projects and news in your inbox weekly.