The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award winners were hosted at the Galien Africa Forum in a virtual discussion entitled “Leadership and Innovation: Meet the Winners of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award”. The virtual discussion focused on the future of healthcare innovation in Africa with a critical examination of the role of African youth in driving innovation and exploring the place of African innovation in global health security.
Officially launched at the 3rd Forum Galien Africa in December 2020, by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa, the Africa Young Innovators Award for Health is an investment in promising African entrepreneurial youth. “By looking to Africa’s young people, we can find workable solutions for supporting healthcare workers and strengthening healthcare systems,” said Maelle Ba, Strategic Communications Manager at Speak Up Africa as she introduced Conrad Tankou, CEO, GIC Space (Cameroon); John Mwangi, CEO, Daktari Media (Kenya) and Imodoye Abioro, CEO, Healthbotics (Nigeria).
Speaking about the Award, Dr. Karim Bendhaou, Chair of the IFPMA Africa Engagement Committee said, “The Award is a demonstration of what a vibrant private sector can do to respond to Africa’s public health problem.”
Dr. Bendhaou further highlighted the reason behind the Award with a specific focus on fostering an innovation ecosystem and invest in the innovation capacity of this generation of young people to deliver more and better healthcare solutions. The award provides financial and logistical support for winners to develop their healthcare projects and increase their potential as agents of change.
He also congratulated the first ever winners of the Award and noted that, “They will inspire others to develop innovation dedicated to improving African public health and living conditions and help magnify attention to the place of African innovation in global health security.”
While speaking about the role of African youth in driving innovations, Dr. Conrad Tankou, first prize winner of the Award stressed that young Africans need to be actively involved in solving healthcare challenges on the continent. He added that they shall face a myriad of obstacles and challenges in the development of their ideas but need to be brave enough to try new things. “It wasn’t easy to building the GICMED solution that is adapted to the context and needs of rural communities where electricity is a problem and inadequate internet connectivity,” he said. “However, we accepted failure at every point in time and didn’t take it as a challenge. We tried different solutions over time, and the challenges we met motivated us along the way.”
John Mwangi, second prize winner of the Award, added a message to the hundreds of young people that are struggling with their health innovations. “Understand the sector or have someone to walk and work with you. Secondly, understand the various interconnections and relationships in the ecosystem. And lastly, consider the regulation environment in which you operate,” he advised.
Using his innovation Daktari Online is an example of achieving accreditation with various medical regulators in Kenya, he said, “We integrated the systems of regulators with our system so that they could easily track the continuous learning of health workers in real-time. This made CPD tracking and re-licensure much more effortless and time-saving.”
In a shift from the ingenuity of young Africans to decision makers, Imodoye Abioro implored a focus on dedicated funding to higher education and research and development. He pointed to technology bringing new ways of doing things and creating better opportunities to strengthen African health systems.
While talking about his Mediverse innovation, he said, “we are creating software that works with or without the internet that allows the health worker to have an extra hand when delivering care. All its features and benefits are designed around making them efficient and more effective.”
About the Galien Forum Africa
The Forum Galien Afrique, brings together many renowned scientists and some of the most deserving young students and youth to discuss their research and innovative work in health and healthcare. By ensuring that communities across Africa have access to accurate and potentially life-saving information and innovations, we will be able to continue our progress in the fight for a fairer, more prosperous society, free from the burden of diseases thanks to a resilient health system. It also supports building and strengthening resilient public health systems that can prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, reinforcing Global Health Security. The Forum Galien Afrique provides a platform for high-level scientific exchange on issues of common interest, the priorities of our continent for Africans and by Africans. This year’s theme is “Africa mobilizes for global health security.”