The first Innovate for life meetup was held on 12 January 2017, at Nailab, in Nairobi, Kenya. The meetup was an integration of innovators and subject matter experts in health that aimed to rally up innovators towards a two day hackathon that will be part of the Africa International Health Agenda Conference by Amref Health Africa that will run from 7 to 9, March 2017.
Josephine Mwangi, the Head of Communications and Marketing at Nailab, urged all present to create and think on solutions viable for Africa. Her sentiments were shared by the Group CEO of Amref Health Africa, Dr Githinji Gitahi. “Solutions for health issues in Africa are very different from those of other continents”, he stated.
Maternal and newborn mortality in Africa is very high due to preventable deaths. According to Dr Gitahi, it is time for Africa to start serious discussions and offer viable solutions to reduce maternal and newborn deaths in the continent. “90 years ago, the world discovered penicillin, a drug that changed medicine completely. Millions of deaths were averted due to this discovery and we can call it medicine’s Great Escape. Interestingly, in Africa, mothers and children continue to die daily due to preventable diseases. In Kenya alone, 20 women die daily due to pregnancy related conditions. 53,000 babies die annually due to the same. This has to stop! We have to strive to get our Great Escape and in doing so, save lives,” Dr Gitahi motivated the innovators.
Sam Gichuru, the co-founder and current CEO of Nailab, also present at the event, explained that Africa already had everything it needed to create solutions for preventable maternal and newborn deaths. “Technology is the key. You are at a position to come up with innovations that use technology to help our mothers and children. In your endeavor, I will encourage all innovators to make their solutions user-centred. The subject matter experts here today can help you know what is happening on the ground. Create solutions that address a need on the ground as it will have the greatest of impacts. Remember that innovation is not all about complex things. It will even be better if your innovation can be used by someone in Turkana, who does not have much tech knowledge or even basic education,” he advised.
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Amref Health Africa Innovate for Life Hackathon Challenge
During the meetup, the innovators were given a chance to mingle with subject matter experts from Amref Health Africa, Toto Health, Nailab and Takeda. Takeda, being the main sponsor of the two day hackathon, was presented by Mr Niraj Doshi, the Head - Access to Medicines SSA, who also stressed on the importance of technology in solving both preventable and non-communicable diseases in Africa. “We as Takeda look forward to supporting and incubating relevant ideas and programmes to help ease the health burden Africa currently bears,” he confirmed.
To further motivate the innovators, Dr Koki Kinagwi, who was representing Dr Meshack Ndirangu, the Country Director of Amref Health Africa in Kenya, gave different scenarios on the challenges that maternal and newborn health practitioners face.
“There are three things that make maternal and newborn morbidity high. The first is delay in decision making to go to hospital. The second is delay in getting to the hospital and the third is delay in getting services at the hospitals. Solutions given should try and tackle these delays,” Dr Koki advised.
About Innovate for Life
Innovate for Life is an active call by Amref Health Africa to innovative teams across the globe in preparation for the Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC 2017). The call rallies innovators to participate in a two-day start-up hackathon in Nairobi, Kenya on March 7 and 8, 2017, with the purpose of developing solutions that respond to the significant challenges faced by mothers and infants across the continent. The solutions will seek to reduce the high rates of maternal and newborn deaths in Africa.
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