The World Health Organization in Africa hosts virtual hackathons and provides finalists with digital solutions to curb COVID-19 seed capital up to $ 20,000.
The UN agency's regional office completed its first challenge earlier this month and will host a second for French-speaking Africa in the coming weeks, WHO’s technical representative, Moredeck Chibi, told theinformationsuperhighway.
According to Dr. Chibi is targeting the WHO-AFRO Digital Hackathon series to persuade technical applications – especially for Africa – to curb the spread and negative effects of COVID-19, which began to peak in March on the continent.
For the first virtual challenge, the WHO selected the participants using an online application process and divided them into teams using Zoom. The groups were commissioned to develop scalable concepts that are aligned with WHO's current COVID 19 response strategy and include infection prevention and control, case management, surveillance and continuity of health services.
The victorious hackathon group, led by the Ghanaian entrepreneur Laud Basing, developed a screening tool concept that can be operated via a mobile app or a USSD code. It maps COVID-19 test cases, classifies them by risk, and provides data to national authorities to plan responses. The team will receive $ 10,000 from the WHO to test their concept and find additional resources and expertise.
WHO collects coronavirus data in its database for incident tracking in Africa.
In early March, the continent's COVID-19 cases were in single digits by country, but by the middle of the month these numbers had increased – leading the WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti trigger an alarm for the virus at a press conference on March 19. In early March, she found that there were only five countries with cases in sub-Saharan Africa. That had grown to 30 in the middle of the month and is now 44.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization, there were 6023 COVID-19 cases in sub-Saharan Africa on Monday and 240 confirmed deaths related to the virus, compared to 463 cases and 8 deaths on March 18.
The country most severely affected so far, South Africa, was pushed through by the government.
As COVID-19 spreads across Africa's major economies, policymakers and founders have focused on the continent's technology sector to find answers.
The central banks of Ghana and Kenya have turned to mobile money as a public health tool and have taken steps to shift a larger volume of transactions towards digital payments and away from cash – what the World Health Organization has called the coronavirus channel.
Africa's largest incubator, CcHub, launched a fund and open tender for technology projects to curb COVID-19 and its social and economic impact.
And pan-African e-commerce company Jumia has offered African governments the use of its last-mile delivery network to distribute deliveries to healthcare facilities and workers.
The WHO's COVID-19 Africa hackathons are not the first time the organization has turned to the continent's techies. In 2019 the Geneva The resident committee launched the WHO Innovation Challenge – a competition to create “home-grown innovations with the potential to solve African health problems”. 2400 contributions from 44 countries were submitted.
Those interested in finding a solution to the next World Health Organization hackathon in response to COVID-19 can contact the WHO Regional Africa Office.