#HealthMeetsTechNG Hackathon: Tech solutions for Nigeria’s infectious diseases

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The Nigerian healthcare system currently faces many challenges, from inadequate infrastructure to gaps in key health policy implementation and the absence of effective multi-sectoral partnerships. Historically, alliances between industries such as banking and telecommunications have spurred innovations that have propelled growth across many sectors in Nigeria. As technology plays a greater role in driving innovation and development in the modern world, more attention is being paid to whether a convergence of the health and tech industries could potentially leapfrog stages of development in Nigeria’s health sector and the economy at large.

In recent years, EpiAfric has helped create and support opportunities to promote innovation in the Nigerian healthcare industry through working more closely with other sectors, most notably the technology and business industries. In 2017 the first #HealthMeetsTech hackathon held in Lagos, put together by EpiAFRIC, Cc-Hub Nigeria, Nigeria Health Watch and DigitalHealth Nigeria, and sponsored by Facebook. The hackathon sought to foster technology solutions for health sector challenges. A number of concepts that are in various stages of development emerged from the 2017 event, and equally importantly, new relationships were built between the participating teams, mentors, partner organizations, panellists and judges.

Health tech solutions that were presented included a web-based contraceptive advice tool that aims to tackle the problem of low contraceptive uptake by providing a confidential, professional service; an app aimed at solving the problem of health insurance by increasing ease of registration and payment of insurance premiums via mobile phones. The hackathon challenge was won by Swift EC with its ambulance hailing app; Babycare coming in second place with its personalised child immunization schedules and reminders sent via mobile phone and BetaMedic coming in at third position with its platform for developing and sharing relevant health education content, tapping into Nigerians increasing adoption of social media and tools like Whatsapp. Winners received mentoring support from Digital Health Nigeria and from the incubator, Co-Creation Hub. Winners have also enjoyed ongoing support from EpiAfric and Nigeria Health Watch, who are providing continuous mentorship and backing.

In February this year, EpiAfric with Nigeria Health Watch hosted the first Health Meets Tech meetup in Abuja which brought together participants from health, tech and business to interact and help to start charting the course for future collaborations across the three sectors and establish a blueprint for aspiring participants that interested in bridging the gap between health and technology. Participants were urged to be collaborative and lean on their community as they move through the product and service chain. Dr Chijioke Kaduru emphasized the importance of developing technology that is useful to the target end users in order to get the budget holders to see technology through the health lens.

Members of the EpiAfric and Co-Lab Teams during the mentorship tour in Kaduna. Photo source: EpiAfric

In March, ahead of this week’s upcoming hackathon on infectious disease, the EpiAfric team went on an exciting tech mentorship tour to Northern Nigeria, heading to nHub in Jos and Co-Lab in Kaduna. Attendees were encouraged to think of ways that tech solutions can be used in the aspects of prevention, surveillance, notification and response to infectious disease outbreaks in Nigeria. The team left optimistic that hackathon teams would emerge from these cities, leaving behind the promise of continuous support and mentorship for winning teams.

In line with our continued commitment to bring these worlds together to create relationships that lead to innovative solutions this week, a 3-day Hackathon and Incubation Program, planned and designed by EpiAfric and PandemicTech in partnership with Tech Ranch, Nigeria Health Watch, PharmAcess Nigeria and Ventures Platform Foundation to create technology-centred solutions for health will hold from May 18 – 20, 2018.

Venue: Ventures Platform Abuja

At the #HealthMeetsTechNG 2018: Infectious Diseases Hackathon, health workers who specialize in infectious diseases will work with developers from the tech ecosystem to develop solutions focused on surveillance, notification and response to infectious diseases.

Applications have been received from teams with a maximum of five members with an idea that uses tech to improve the health sector response to infectious disease have been called to apply. The teams are multi-disciplinary with various health professionals, Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers, epidemiologists, general healthcare workers, and software developers and designers.

The 2018 Infectious Diseases Hackathon seeks to build on the collaboration among these teams and provide a platform to build prototypes of technological solutions that could be implemented in the health sector to improve health outcomes for the average Nigerian.

Innovators shortlisted in the first stage will go on to the next stage of the challenge, which requires them to submit comprehensive business plans. The second stage will be preceded by a boot camp where subject matter experts will provide them with sector-specific and business support to develop their business plans. These will be submitted to a review panel and defended in live presentations made to an expert panel of judges. Winners of the challenge will pilot or implement their innovations for a period of 12 months. The awards will be disbursed based on outcomes, with tranches of payments triggered by the achievement of certain technical and operational performance measures.

It is the ultimate goal for the #HealthMeetsTechNG 2018 Infectious Diseases Hackathon to discover, guide and release into the market, groups of multi-disciplinary dreamers and changemakers that will contribute to providing solutions to healthcare in Nigeria, now and for the future.

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