The pandemic era has faced us with one of the biggest global health challenges in the modern day but yet what is truly inspiring and encouraging is the way youth-led start-ups across Africa have found innovative solutions to face this challenge. From solar-powered automatic handwashing tools to mobile applications that build on Africa’s rapidly growing connectivity, we have seen home-grown innovation adapted to the African context. Especially during a global health pandemic, access to these healthcare innovations proves critical to protecting the health and well-being of people.
The continent’s capacity for innovation, which continues to create and develop new products, ideas and services— continuously, showcases African inventors at the forefront of emerging technology. Impressively, at the centre of these innovations are youth, who are disrupting the status quo and developing new solutions to old problems.
Across Africa with the world’s largest incidence of disease and a severe shortage of healthcare workers, these innovations are primarily directed at strengthening healthcare through patient management, disease surveillance and prevention. As the proliferation of mobile phone usage continues to increase across the continent, mobile phones are at the centre of a lot of these innovations – from providing maternal health support to wearables and sensors opening up possibilities for compact diagnostic tools that track and monitor patient’s health within the hospital, at home as well as in underserved and remote areas.
Despite the rate of mobile proliferation, many people across the continent today deal with several real-life barriers to access digital health, especially the urban-rural and gender divide, low digital literacy, and shortage of connectivity and electricity. This is why the hard work, commitment, ingenuity and marked understanding of these young innovators for the African peculiarities in the development of their solutions are laudable and commendable.
Ultimately, a robust policy and regulatory environment, as well as financing, are crucial to realizing long-term benefits. Even in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic and its aftermath, African youth-led start-ups have not given up. This generation of young African entrepreneurs is creating homegrown solutions to address societal challenges and fill in the healthcare gaps in their communities. Yet, increasingly more investment in human capital is needed for this demographic potential to reap the development rewards it should do.
The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is an investment in the human capital of Africa’s promising young entrepreneurs. The Award seeks to recognise and reward the incredible work already happening. The Award provides financial as well as in-kind support such as valuable mentorship and technical support to propel these young innovators. This support and recognition would enable them to advance their healthcare solutions and be supported in their journey to becoming the changemakers, innovators and leaders of today.
Over the next 12 weeks, we will showcase on social media youth across the continent that are solving healthcare problems and changing lives in Africa and beyond. Whilst we celebrate the amazing work of these 12 young African innovators we will be featuring, we especially look forward to celebrating the 2021 winners of The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award to be announced in the second half of 2021.