11 SEPTEMBER 2023, GENEVA AND DAKAR –The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa announced 15 candidates shortlisted for the 2nd edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. In alphabetical order, these candidates are:

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award supports young entrepreneurs with the tools they need to advance their innovations for better health outcomes. The theme of the 2nd edition of the Awards is on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with a focus on innovations that are extending population or service coverage and ensuring better financial protection for their communities. 

Shortlisted candidates will be in the running for financial and in-kind support and all are eligible to participate in a mini-bootcamp later this month, working with business leaders to communicate their ideas for impact.

A technical review team of leading global health and business organizations reviewed and selected 15 shortlisted candidates out of more than 180 applications. Selection was based on the extent to which each applicant met the UHC criteria, the experience, skills, and maturity of the start-up, the anticipated impact of the Award, the quality of the application, and whether the innovation made the case for contributing to a more sustainable world.

Embracing the essential pursuit of universal health coverage, we recognize the pivotal role innovation plays in achieving this goal. We are delighted to reaffirm our partnership with IFPMA to support young bold Africans tackling our continent’s most urgent health challenges. Today, we are pleased to unveil the remarkable 15 individuals who have been shortlisted for the 2023 African Young Innovators for Health Award

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa

In a year dedicated to UHC and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to celebrate African youth who are applying their imaginations, skills, and expertise to help realize the dream of health for all, everywhere. Congratulations to the 15 shortlisted candidates and we look forward to announcing the final four Awardees next month at the Galien Forum Afrique.

Greg Perry, Assistant Director General, IFPMA added

Two female and two male first and second prize winners will benefit from a combined $90,000 USD to bring their innovation to life to achieve UHC in Africa. Winners will also benefit from business mentoring, strategic guidance on intellectual property rights, media training, and access to a global health and innovation network. 

Award winners will be announced on Wednesday, 4 October 2023 in a ceremony at the Forum Galien Afrique. 

The Awards program is supported by Amref Health Africa, Forum Galien Afrique, IntraHealth International, Geneva Health Forum, Women in Global Health, Adams & Adams, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, Maddyness, ANA. Media partners include Africa.com, ScienceActu, and REMAPSEN. 

Read the article about Dr. Shakira, member of the jury

A South African based public health practitioner and activist, Dr. Shakira Choonara, has called on African governments to make it a priority in investing more resources rightly in the health sector so as to enable the continent to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

She was of the view that achieving UHC was not beyond the reach of African governments and that when the right investments and prioritisations are made, the region would be able to make a headway in that regard.

She particularly implored African governments to focus more on disease prevention and health promotion as some of the measures needed to achieve UHC and Sustainable Development Goal-3, which is about prevention of diseases and promotion of good health. 

Dr. Choonara in an interview with Graphic Online said African nations could properly regulate some of the factors that cause sicknesses in the region, including tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks as well as the entire sugary industry.

She said it has become necessary to enhance the quality of care in the African region, saying “When the quality of care is low, that means we are not making progress.”

She added also that there was the need to bring down out-of-pocket expenses in the healthcare sector, noting that as a result of the inability of the governments in the region to provide the needed services in the public sector, many people are going into debts, trying to meet the cost of healthcare at the private facilities.

Dr. Choonara stressed that availability and accessibility of quality healthcare delivery was prerequisite for sustainable development in any developed society and that Africa cannot develop without this—UHC.

What is UHC? 

UHC means that everyone has access to the healthcare services that they need without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them.

More importantly, UHC aims to provide health care and financial protection to all people in a given country with three related objectives—equity in access; quality of health services, and financial-risk protection.

In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the third goal of the agenda focusing on health – good health and well-being. This has the attainment of UHC as its umbrella target. 

Health budgeting 

Dr. Choonara holds the conviction that UHC is achievable if things are done right, pointing out that health budgeting distribution should be properly done such that public health facilities would get the needed resources to be able to operate at the optimal levels.

She expressed the concern that even though many African governments were investing in their health sectors, a chunk of such investments go to the private sector which many people could not access their services due to the high cost.

Citing South Africa, for instance, Dr Choonara, who is also currently a Technical Specialist at the World Health Organisation Headquarters, supporting the Department of Health Workforce and Sexual and Reproductive Health, indicated that South Africa “has 80 per cent of its health budget going to the private sector and leaving only 20 per cent for the public sector.”

That, she described the distribution of health budget, as “inaccurate distribution of resources.”

She, however, expressed the concern that when resources are put in the care of state actors, “they are not efficiently utilised” as compared to the private sector.

Dr. Choonara further urged policy makers, implementers and duty bearers in the region to factor the subject of UHC in their thinking, stressing that when leaders prioritise something, they make the necessary efforts to get it done. 

Domestic resources 

She also pointed out that achieving UHC would require significant financial commitment and for the African region to do that, it needed to wean itself from donor support systems and start domestic mobilisation of resources.

She explained that even though donor funding had contributed greatly towards improving the region’s health, such monies come with conditions, making it difficult for the region to channel the monies to where they are needed most.

“For as long as we are dependent on foreign aid, that means they set the priorities,” Dr. Choonara, who is a UHC specialist stated.

Citing HIV, for instance, she said many African nations have enough resources towards HIV related activities due to donor support systems and that such monies could not be channeled into other uses including strengthening health systems, building infrastructure, or purchasing medical equipment. 

She expressed the concern that in many African countries, “unless something is donor-driven in the health system, nothing really happens.”

Dr. Choonara also raised concerns over structural issues in the health sector in the region, pointing out that unlike the private sector where things are properly done to function effectively and efficiently, many public health facilities in the region lacked the right structures.

She said if the private sector is fast developing in terms of digitisation, modernisation and service delivery, the public sector could equally learn from it and upgrade their services.

Shortage of health personnel 

She stressed the need for African countries to provide safer environment for their health workers in order to enable them to stay.

She expressed the concern that Africa continues to lose some of her finest health workers to other parts of the world due to poor conditions of service and lack of enabling environment.

Dr. Choonara, who is widely recognised for her work on gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights and youth development, said the nature of health facilities in many parts of Africa contribute to pushing many health workers out of the region. 

She said many health professionals in the region had to provide care for patients without the needed equipment, which all affect their work and morale.

For her, the growing exodus of health professionals from the African region “is going to have a dire impact on us” and added that “these professionals are snapped out very quickly.”

Why focus on Youth?  

Concerning the involvement of adolescents and youth in the UHC discussion, Dr. Choonara, who is also a former member of the African Union Youth Council and Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) Commission on universal health coverage in Africa, stressed that children and adolescent are so important in the discussion of UHC because “that is the age you develop your health habits and your social practices.”

Similarly, she noted, when adolescents and youth are involved in the UHC discussion, it would enable them to learn to prevent certain addictive lifestyles, including consumption of alcohol, processed foods, sugary foods and tobacco. 

“If you build a healthy population at that age, that means the entire life-cycle is likely to be healthy,” she said, indicating that it would also help to reduce lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in population.

Dr. Choonara argued that considering the critical role of the youth in achieving UHC, there was the need to involve the youth at all levels of decision making in order for them to make the right inputs in such thinking.

Innovation & Youth 

She also urged African governments to help innovators in the region to come up with solutions to meet the region’s health needs.

She explained that many regions of the world are now depending largely on technologies and innovations to provide quality health care for their people and that Africa should not be an exception.

She also entreated young innovators in the region to collaborate with the private sector if the governments are unable to meet up their funding needs.

Dr. Choonara therefore commended Speak Up Africa for its initiative in providing funding support for young African health innovators.

For her, “having this source of incentives is excellent. It gives them a push that they need” pointing out that countries such as India and China largely rely on innovations and technology in driving their healthcare and such things are mostly led by the youth.

She also implored African governments to embrace new ways of doing things to ensure that the region is not left out in providing quality, accessible, and affordable care to its citizens at all times in all areas.

“Once the public sector healthcare system is functioning really in archaic way, nothing is going to change,” she noted.
Africa Young Innovators for Health Award 

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is a flagship programme launched by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa to recognise and reward innovative projects by young African entrepreneurs in the health sector. 

It is supported by AMREF Health Africa, BroadReach, Ecobank Academy, the Galien Foundation, IntraHealth International, Microsoft 4 Afrika, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Social Change Factory, Africa.com and Scidev.net.

The first edition of the award, launched in December 2021, highlighted innovative solutions aimed at supporting health professionals who are leading the way in delivering care and promoting health. 

Find this article on Graphic Online

22 May 2023.
By the Award program team

IFPMA and Speak Up Africa launch the 2nd edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award focused on supporting young health innovators across Africa to advance their promising healthcare solutions in support of Universal Health Coverage. Four award winners will receive financial and in-kind support to bring their healthcare innovations to life.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Association (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa launch the second edition of their flagship program, the African Young Innovators for Health Award, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the World Health Assembly. 

This year, the Award Program seeks to find and nurture youth-driven health innovations that strive to accelerate efforts to advance Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa. UHC means that all individuals and communities have access to the full spectrum of quality healthcare services without the risk of financial hardship, ensuring “Health for All. Everywhere.” 

Most African countries have UHC as a goal in their national health strategies. Yet, progress has been slow. Countries that achieve their UHC targets by 2030 will eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, strengthen resilience to public health emergencies, reduce financial hardship linked to illness, and fortify the foundations for long-term economic growth.

Speaking about the theme of the second edition of the Award Program, Dr. Karim Bendhaou, Africa Engagement Committee Chair, IFPMA, says, “Despite African countries across the continent strongly demonstrating their commitment to achieving UHC by 2030, progress toward reaching this goal has stalled, with the Covid-19 pandemic reversing many hard-earned gains. The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award provides an invaluable opportunity to leverage the ingenuity of Africa’s growing youth population to find locally adapted solutions that help our communities have greater access to affordable and quality healthcare products and services.” 

The Award offers four winners financial support totaling 90, 000 USD to take their innovation to the next level, alongside a three-month business mentorship program with leading business figures and strategic guidance on intellectual property rights from one of Africa’s top law firms. 

“This program provides young African health innovators the chance to learn from business, media, and legal experts to further develop their healthcare innovations, join a growing community of healthcare entrepreneurs, and strengthen the health ecosystem on the continent so that Africa’s biggest health challenges can be tackled,” says Yacine Djibo, Director and Founder of Speak Up Africa, reflecting on the value the program.

Conrad Tankou, CEO of GICMed and winner of the first edition of the Award, says, The program gave me the space to identify the strengths and weaknesses in my business and helped me improve my business model to attract investors, grow my network, and successfully scale up into new areas.” 

This year applicants must be between 21 and 35 and be able to show that they have developed a minimum viable health product or service or are in the process of developing such a product or service, with the potential to scale up their innovation to drive efforts towards achieving UHC. As a learning from the 1st edition of the Awards, men and women will be eligible for first and second place prizes each, ensuring greater gender equality in the Awards and as foundational to a UHC where no one is left behind. 

Applications open from 22 May 2023 until 25 July 2023 – Apply now.

24 June 2022.
By the Award program team

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO) has featured the Africa Young Innovators for Health Awardees and shortlisted applicants on its new African Innovators Network platform to acknowledge their innovative healthcare solutions. The platform showcases over 90 inspirational innovations from across the African region, with the aim of connecting different international and local players in the innovation ecosystem to identify and support ideas emerging from the African continent.  

Featured Awardees include Conrad Tankou (GICMED), John Mwangi (Daktari Media), Imodoye Abioro (Mediverse), and  Women Innovators Incubator participants Nuriat Nambogo (MobiCare), Marie Chantal Umunyana (Umubyeyi Elevate), and Angella Kyomugisha (Kaaro Health). 

Alongside the Awardees, the marketplace showcased innovations from shortlisted applicants:  Dysmus Kisilu (SolarFreeze), Emmanuel Kamuhire (A-Lite Vein Locator), Harrison Suhnfor (H&S Technologies), Mohamed Taha Ben Mhenni (Vitah), Peaceman Rwema (PharmaDoc), Richard Seshie (Allo Sante), Sesinam Dagadu (SnooCODE RED), Stephen Ogweno (Stowelink), and Chrispin Akuzwe (Smart Chair). 

According to WHO, locally generated innovations harness the rapid growth in information and mobile technology to accelerate better health outcomes, reduce inequities, and drive disease prevention and care. However, innovators still face significant barriers toward scaling across Africa due to limited innovation-friendly policies to support establishing a robust innovation ecosystem in the continent. 

To support African innovators and their innovative solutions, WHO AFRO developed a virtual marketplace that showcases inspirational innovations and connects them with international and local players in the innovation system. By identifying promising health innovations, delineating critical paths forward, and working with different stakeholders, including funders and governments, this virtual marketplace can help bring these innovations to scale. 

Visit the WHO AFRO Innovation Marketplace here.

Photo Credit: World Intellectual Property Organization

On World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, 26 April 2022, the Africa Young Innovators for Health Awardees shared their experiences as young health innovators during a high-level panel discussion on “Innovating for Better Health: Supporting Young Innovators through IP.”  The discussion focused on the critical elements – financial support, visibility with investors, and understanding of IP and incentive systems –  needed for a sustainable health innovation ecosystem to function and advance promising, disruptive solutions designed by young innovators.

Awardees Conrad Tankou and Nuriat Nambogo joined Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director, Speak Up Africa; Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA; and other award-winning innovators and global health IP leaders.

Young people are not merely recipients of innovation but co-creators of the future they inherit. “In Africa, we have so many challenges, especially in health that are all around us. We need solutions that are affordable and scalable and we can come up with such solutions,” Nuriat Nambogo from MobiCare Uganda said. Nuriat also highlighted that MobiCare said. explained that MobiCare Uganda explained that “funding is a challenge when it comes to women innovators.

In addition to funding, Nuriat highlighted the limited training and support to not only women innovators, but all innovators in Africa for developing new healthcare technologies and filing for IP protection.

Conrad Tankou, CEO of Global Innovation and Creative Space (GIC Space), highlighted similar challenges in building the proprietary GICMED technology to increase access to cancer screening, testing and treatment for women in rural and peri-urban areas. “Whenever asked who owned the rights to this technology, I used to give a straightforward answer that it was either GIC Space or me. And yet there was no protection for what we were building.”

The Awardees’ challenges are not unique; they reflect challenges many innovators in developing countries face when seeking to solve pressing global health challenges. IFPMA and Speak Up Africa formed the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award and the Women Innovators Incubator to create a supportive platform for young innovators, not only through financial support but also access to dedicated business and IP protection expertise.

“From our first edition, we received over 300 high-quality applications that reflected a dynamism that no one was talking about. But everything we hear and talk about today is reflected in these entrepreneurs and their innovations. These programs offered extra support and visibility of their work,” said Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa.

Conrad recommends all entrepreneurs in developing countries take IP seriously, especially at the start of their journeys. “The same way we consider research and development to understand the problems we want to solve in the market should be equivalent to understanding intellectual property because it gives you incredible value and credibility for what you’re trying to build.”

Thomas Cueni, Director-General, IFPMA, pointed out the need to support the enormous talent pool within Africa, noting that a fifth of Africa’s working population are starting new ventures and willing to take risks to solve the challenges they see in their environments. “Today, we have seen programs propose concrete solutions for challenging the barriers young innovators face. But we have also learned how young innovative ideas are protected and supported by IP. For any innovator, IP is an incentive. IP must also be used to promote access,” he said

He closed the discussion by marking World IP Day as the beginning of a new area of innovation for health progress but only if the full power and potential of young people innovating solutions for our most significant global health challenges are recognized.

About World IP Day

Every April 26, WIPO celebrates World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year the theme of World Intellectual Property Day is “IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future” and celebrates youth-led innovation and creativity. World Intellectual Property Day 2022 is an opportunity for young people to find out how IP rights can support their goals, help transform their ideas into reality and make a positive impact on the world around them.

The event was co-organized by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with support from Speak Up Africa and the Geneva Health Forum.

25 May 2022.
By the Award program team

Each year on May 25, Africans around the globe celebrate Africa Day to reflect on progress made on the continent. It is a time to take stock of the transformative power of young entrepreneurship and how it is changing the face of healthcare delivery and supporting healthcare workers across Africa. As we mark the end of the first-ever Africa Young Innovators for Health Award programme, it is also an opportunity to celebrate the journeys of our six Awardees: Conrad Tankou, CEO of GICMED;  John Mwangi, CEO of Daktari Online; Imodoye Abioro CEO of Mediverse; Angella Kyomugisha, Co-Founder of Kaaro Health; Nuriat Nambogo, Founder of MobiCare; and Marie Chantal Umunyana, Founder of Umubyeyi Elevate.

From advancing clinical trials, expanding teams and resources, improving innovations, refining plans to enter new markets and piloting environmentally-safe clinics, the young, innovative entrepreneurs are thriving and advancing their healthcare solutions with the support of the Award programme’s financial and in-kind support.  

Their success on this programme has been transformational. Global Innovation and Creativity Space (GIC Space) has officially put forward clinical trials to show the potential impact of its GICMED proprietary technology on screening, testing, and treating cervical and breast cancer in rural and peri-urban settings. Led by Conrad Tankou, the first prize winner of the Award, GICMED is a telemedicine platform, a smartphone digital microscopy system, a smart speculum device, a simple fine needle aspirate biopsy device, and an intuitive e-learning and training platform. By showing the technology’s impact in an evidence-based manner, he believes this will demonstrate GICMED’s effectiveness and use in more health facilities as he seeks to reach more women living in the most remote settings. 

Second prize winner, John Mwangi, has upgraded Daktari Online’s content, user interface, and experience to cater to the growing number of health workers using the platform for continuous medical education and re-licensure. Daktari Online is accredited by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC) to provide medical education to over 15,000 professionals ranging from general practitioners, clinical officers, and other primary healthcare professionals in Kenya. He continues to develop his offering and seeks to enter new markets with Daktari Online. 

Mediverse, an AI-powered electronic medical records system, has finished testing and improving its word error rate of transcription and is preparing to onboard more than 200 health facilities in Africa. Led by Imodoye Abioro, the innovation allows health workers to input and retrieve patient records with their voices, working with or without internet access on any device. Imodoye has scaled up operations in his home country, Nigeria, with two offices in Lagos and Abuja, coupled with growth marketing efforts on the back of his renewed go-to-market strategy devised through his business mentorship.  

Angella Kyomugisha developed and piloted an environmentally friendly version of Kaaro Health’s telehealth-enabled clinics in time for roll-out to some of Uganda’s island communities. This Women Innovators Incubator participant leads the team at Kaaro Health, a social enterprise deploying telehealth-enabled container clinics staffed by a nurse and a lab technician from the local communities in villages with no clinic within a 25-kilometre radius. As a result, the Kaaro Health team provides improved access to primary health care services, especially in rural communities, thus reducing the time and cost burdens of seeking care.  

Mobicare, led by Nuriat Nambogo, connects doctors and patients through its mobile-based online platform, bridging the gap between patients and medical professionals through appointment scheduling. The application also helps doctors manage their daily schedules at different health facilities with patient appointments and plan for future reviews. Her team finalized a pilot study to test the viability and implementation of the mobile application. The findings have helped develop an improved version of MobiCare that can be deployed and marketed countrywide. 

Marie-Chantal Umunyana finalized her web platform and educational content on parenting, early childhood development, and mental health in Rwanda. This content focuses on supporting soon-to-be mothers and parents along their journeys, right from preparation and pregnancy to parenting. Additionally, Umubyeyi Elevate launched the “Be Space”, a safe space where women can meet and safely share their thoughts, experiences, and motivation and receive advice and empowerment directly from experts and one another.

With a mission to support pioneering young health entrepreneurs across Africa to bring their innovations to life, the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award will continue to shine a spotlight on Africa’s dynamic healthcare innovation ecosystem and celebrate the power of youth-led African innovation. 

Stay tuned for the next edition coming in May 2023. 

10 May 2022.
By the Award program team

 Pictured: Conrad Tankou (GIC Space), Nuriat Nambogo (MobiCare)

Awardees from the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award showcased their game changing innovations to key actors at the Geneva Health Forum from 3-5 May 2022. Conrad Tankou (GIC Space), Nuriat Nambogo (MobiCare), and Nyambura Muroki (Daktari Online), pictured on News front page, alongside shortlisted applicant Sesinam Dagadu (SnooCODE Red), were present for the Forum.

During the 9th edition of the Forum, under the theme “Covid-19 Pandemic and Environmental Emergency: Reinventing Global Health in Times of Global Changes,” the entrepreneurs presented their healthcare solutions, which aim to protect, support, equip, and train healthcare professionals who have been working tirelessly to protect and treat the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, to various attendees.

Their innovations were part of more than 100 global innovations at this year’s Global Health Lab, an innovation fair and one of the critical elements of the Forum focused on showcasing breakthroughs in healthcare ranging from telemedicine diagnostics and treatment to affordable medical devices.

The Geneva Health Forum brings together more than 1,600 participants in person and over 290 virtually from all sectors – field practitioners, academics, professors from the public and private sector, policymakers, and international and non-governmental organizations – for dynamic conversations on improving health and care access worldwide. The Forum also gives visibility to innovative field experiences, especially by promoting innovative practices that enhance access to care in resource-limited settings.

The Geneva Health Forum

The Geneva Health Forum (GHF) is the forum that brings together key global health actors. Created in 2006, it is organized by the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and the University of Geneva in partnership with 30 global multisectoral organizations, with the overall goal to contribute to improving health and care access in the world. At the heart of International Geneva, the Geneva Health Forum provides a continuous platform for collaboration and holds one of the largest Global Health conferences every two years. This year’s GHF conference took place from 3 to 5 May 2022, under the theme: “Covid-19 Pandemic and Environmental Emergency: Reinventing Global Health in times of Global Changes.”

10 May 2022.
By the Award program team

Exclusive interview with Awa Babington-Ashaye, head of GHF workstreams’ strategy & coordination of GHF organization, on Africa’s representation at the Forum

As part of the ninth edition of the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), themed “Covid-19 Pandemic and Environmental Emergency: Reinventing Global Health in Times of Global Changes,” the Award Team sat down with Awa Babington-Ashaye, head of GHF workstreams’ strategy & coordination and founder of Adenium Healthcare, to talk about how the GHF is promoting and supporting health innovation, specifically African innovators, to solve the region’s most pressing healthcare challenges.

Awa explains that, since its launch in 2006, the GHF has been fostering better access to healthcare, promoting research, and training health actors on a global scale. It is also recognized as one of the largest biennial global health conferences with an average of 1, 500 participants annually (this year 1,698 participants joined in person and 295 joined virtually), bringing together various actors from the private sector, academia, incubators, and financial institutions every two years.

When asked about the importance of innovation and technology at the Forum, Awa refers to the “exciting discussions that were held about how health, innovation and technology can enable better targeting of public health interventions on a global scale to maximize their effectiveness.”

 When it comes to Africa, Awa sees the great opportunities that technology has for the continent. According to Awa, “the future of healthcare in Africa relies on multiple factors – one being the ability to seize the opportunities from innovation and new technologies.”

 Awa believes that African solutions to African challenges are the best way forward and the way to get there is through African entrepreneurship and a supportive innovation ecosystem. In her opinion, the internet is one of those major opportunities. “Africa has one of the world’s largest penetrations of the internet and smartphones. Sadly, we still observe too many countries where people are dying from preventable and curable diseases,” she said. Therefore, “sustainable solutions can be found by developing adequate, accessible approaches that met the local health system’s constraints hence African solutions are essential.”

When asked about the theme of the session and the opportunity for innovation in Africa it presents, Awa explains that, “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented catalyst for innovation in Africa. We all observed how young African entrepreneurs developed new initiatives to build resilience in the communities to help tackle the pandemic, including telemedicine, digital platforms to tackle the infodemic, contact tracing applications, or new models to support health workers in the delivery of care. The ability to be creative and serve the health needs of populations in constrained settings is an important example to look at,“ she said.

Awa then discussed with us how African innovators can play a bigger role in shaping global health. “This is why the Geneva Health Forum could benefit from lessons learned from African entrepreneurs to reflect on effective approaches needed to reinvent global health during major health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Africa is undoubtedly leading in so many ways in the health space. It is also important to consider rethinking the paradigm in solving global health challenges and how we see Africa and Africans’ role in that equation. Africa’s representation is fundamental. Beyond ensuring better visibility for Africa in the global health scene, the stakes are higher,” she added.

 The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award focused particularly on solutions for healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. On this, Awa said, “African entrepreneurs, through their resilience and remarkable ability to get the most from different local constraints, have supported healthcare professionals, but also whole communities.”

For Awa, the investment in Africa’s health and technology sector is increasing and, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is another reason for bringing the learnings of those successful ventures to the table at the GHF. She explains that the GHF team conducted workshops focusing on the issue of pharmaceutical distribution in Africa, but also sessions and collaboration on the topic of neglected diseases in Africa , including Noma and sleeping sickness. They also organized a panel discussion on how to drive equity through ‘virtual healthcare pathways.’

The Awardees at the GHF 2022

Award winners Conrad Tankou (CEO of GICMED), Nyambura Muroki (Head of Operations & Strategy at Daktari Media), Nuriat Nambogo (CEO of Mobicare), and Sesinam Dagadu (SnooCodRed), who was shortlisted for the Award, were selected to present their innovations to hundreds of global health actors at the 2022 edition of the Geneva Health Forum.

 About Awa Babington-Ashaye

 Ms Babington-Ashaye is a biochemist by training, and a specialist of virology and molecular biochemistry. Awa has led several public health initiatives related to the prevention and diagnosis of various infectious diseases (Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, Malaria) in different regions of the world and West Africa in particular. Well-versed in the field, she shared her view on the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and the role of innovators but also explained why African entrepreneurs’ participation in the Forum was important.

2 May 2022.
By the Award program team

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Awardees Conrad Tankou (GIC Space), Nuriat Nambogo (MobiCare), Nyambura Muroki (Daktari Online) alongside Sesinam Dagadu (SnooCODE Red) have been selected to showcase their innovations during the Geneva Health Forum starting today, Tuesday 3rd May 2022. 

 Under the theme “Covid-19 Pandemic and Environmental Emergency: Reinventing Global Health in Times of Global Changes”, the entrepreneurs will introduce their disruptive solutions aiming at protecting, supporting, equipping, and training healthcare professionals who have been working tirelessly to protect and treat the public amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From the 3rd to the 5th of May, the Geneva Health Forum (GHF) will bring together industry players working on global health issues. And will allow them to connect with political decision-makers to further discuss solutions. It will also offer visibility to innovative, accessible, sustainable practices, tools, and critical initiatives. 

About the Geneva Health Forum

The Geneva Health Forum (GHF) is the forum that brings together key actors to help find solutions to global health challenges. Created in 2006, it is organized by the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) and the University of Geneva in partnership with 30 global multi sectoral organizations, with the overall goal to contribute to improving health and care access in the world. At the heart of International Geneva, the Geneva Health Forum provides a continuous platform for collaboration and organizes one of the largest Global Health conferences every two years. The GHF conference gathers 1600 participants from all sectors – field practitioners, academics, professionals from the public and private sectors, international and non-governmental organizations, and policy-makers. It also gathers a network of actors active in the innovation field from the Health Valley and beyond.

12 April 2022.
By the Award program team

Yet, young innovators are many times without sufficient support to overcome critical challenges in fulfilling the potential of their innovations – from concept and strategy to implementation and scale. These young entrepreneurs, especially young women and those in low- and middle-income countries, face financial barriers, low visibility with investors and policymakers, limited understanding of IP and incentive systems, and lack of support from business mentors. 

On World Intellectual Property (IP) day, Africa Young Innovators for Health Awardees Conrad Tankou (CEO, GIC Space) and Nuriat Nambogo (Team Lead, MobiCare) will showcase their healthcare innovations that are leapfrogging existing infrastructure and embedding change in communities. 

IFPMA, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Speak Up Africa, and award-winning young innovators driving innovation and making advancements to improve Africa’s health outcomes on Tuesday, 26 April from 02:00 PM-04:00 PM GMT / 04:00 PM -06:00 PM CEST.  

The hybrid event titled “Innovating for Better Health: Supporting Young Innovators through IP” will highlight critical elements of a sustainable health innovation ecosystem that can advance promising solutions designed by young innovators. The discussions will illustrate how young people are not merely recipients of innovation but co-creators of the future they inherit. 

Innovation plays a crucial role in addressing Africa’s challenges, and young innovators are changing this landscape with the power of their ideas and ambitions for the future, including the future of health.  

With adequate support and effective use of IP rights, young innovators can mobilize and provoke change and help advance the fields of science, business, and innovation to improve health outcomes. 

Panel 1: Youth and innovation: Protecting our health futures through IP (16:20-17:00 CEST) – Register here. 

Moderated by Brian Li Han Wong, Youth Officer, Governing Health Futures 2030, featuring: 

 Panel 2: Catalyzing innovation in health: Bridging the gender gap (17:10-17:40 CEST) – Register here. 

Moderated by Brian Li Han Wong, Youth Officer, Governing Health Futures 2030, featuring: