WHO showcases African innovations in response to COVID-19

Brent NewhallEight African innovators from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Guinea and Kenya have come up with innovative solutions to support the continent’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Starting from interactive public transport, contact tracing apps and dynamic data analytics systems, to rapid diagnostic testing kits, mobile testing booths and low-cost critical care beds, the innovators' projects are born out of a collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) to help contain the spread of the virus.

WHO hosted a virtual session for all the African innovators, where more than 350 innovators participated, in addition to those who presented their home-made solutions. They have already been implemented in their respective countries and have significant potential, to be adopted further across the continent.

WHO has routinely called for a multi-faceted and multisectoral approach to fight the pandemic in Congo, and considers these solutions an integral step for addressing the critical gaps in response to COVID-19.

“Innovation propels human advancement. In times like these, when we are confronted with a major public health emergency, we know that our hope for a better tomorrow lies in finding creative, ground-breaking or avant-garde solutions,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, regional director of WHO, Africa.

“Supporting innovation is a critical component, not only in our collective efforts to combat diseases in Africa, but to provide tested and practised solutions, to ensure better health for all,” he added.

The virtual innovation sessions aim to build on WHO’s inaugural “Hackathon”, hosted in April, which tasked small groups of participants with developing scalable concepts aligned with one of the eight pillars of WHO’s current COVID-19 response strategy: coordination, surveillance, risk communication and community engagement, points of entry, laboratory, infection prevention and control, case management and continuity of essential health services and operational and logistics support. The three highest-ranking groups were awarded seed funding to begin implementing their innovations. WHO will look to provide further operational support to some of the best innovations highlighted in the virtual sessions.

“There has been an overwhelming demand from other innovators who wish to be a part of this event. There is a wealth of innovation talent in Africa and sustaining this kind of platform should be part of our DNA as an organisation,” said Dr Moredreck Chibi, WHO regional innovation advisor.

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