The Private Sector Health Alliance through the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace launched the first ever Health Innovation Challenge (HIC). The competition set out to identify, reward and celebrate promising innovations in health addressing critical issues.
The months were exciting and intriguing as we journeyed through the various phases of the Health Innovation Challenge. Kicking off, the NHIM portal saw an influx of applications from all over Nigeria and the diaspora responding to clearly drafted problem statements developed from in depth consultations with key stakeholders in health. The problem statements covered issues around:
- Medical technologies/equipment for service delivery;
- Access to health coverage;
- Health work force challenges;
- Centralized data management;
- Logistics managements/health information systems;
- Cold Chain (sensitive storage environment) for vaccines and medicines;
- Forecasting disease outbreaks, case management and surveillance and;
- Service delivery models in volatile settings.
Individuals, groups of individuals, corporate entities, small and medium scale enterprises all showed interest by submitting applications of innovations that they have been working on and are passionate about. Of the over 1000 registered users on the portal, over 300 sent in entries to the HIC. Interestingly, entries were submitted to all the various problem statement/streams presented; it goes to show that Nigerians are a pivotal part of providing solutions to the problems the health sector is currently facing. (This ought to make those of you who think no good thing can come out of Nigeria have a rethink on your stand right?). Entries showed different types of innovations at different levels/stages of development.
First stage entry/submission closed on March 31st 2015 and for most of the innovators the journey began. A team of experts went to work, using a predefined framework to blindly assess each submission critically and highlighting innovations that met the stated criteria (for example addressing a critical need, showing potential for viability, scalability etc); each submission was assessed by at least three reviewers. At the end of stage one, 42 innovations were shortlisted to move to the next phase of the competition.
The shortlisted innovations covered 4 main archetypes; these include Technology enablers, local manufacturing of life saving commodities, product specialisation and franchising/innovations in service delivery. Innovators were invited to an all-expense paid multiday design thinking and business development boot camp tailored specifically to this group of innovators and their innovations. The boot camp was delivered by seasoned facilitators with a goal to equip innovators with the necessary design, business and technical skills to effectively structure their innovations.
For the next stage, innovators were required to pitch their ideas before a panel of experts (selected from various fields of expertise; health, business, finance, technology etc) and to turn in completed business plans for their innovations. The panellists gave their reviews of each of the live presentations and an independent third party firm reviewed the business plans and the entire evaluation process from both stage one and the live presentations. The final results were approved by an overarching governing body and finalists were invited to showcase their innovations at an exhibition in the Health Innovation Awards and Impact Investment Summit held on October 28, 2015. The winners were announced at the event.
At this juncture, permit us to introduce you to our finalists (in no particular order);
- Alma Sana Vaccine Reminder Bracelets for low income mothers
- Biofortification: Orange-Flesh Sweet Potatoes
- Electronic Health Education in Any Language (eHEAL)
- Fyodor Urine Malaria Test
- Maternal & Child Nutrition (MATCHIN Project)
- Medical Devices as a Service (MDaaS)
- Mobile Health Insurance Programme (mHealth)
- Node+ Mobile Rapid Response Communicable Disease Network
- Star ‘D Detergent
And the winners of the 2015 Health Innovation Challenge are… Drumroll please…
Fyodor Urine Malaria Test:
A one-step, no blood, no reagents, no equipment, and non-invasive immune-chromatographic membrane assay that aids the detection of the P.falciparum antigen in the urine of infected patients. This is especially critical in rural areas with limited access to health facilities.
Medical Devices as a Service (MDaaS):
An innovation aimed at providing maintenance, repair and refurbishment services, and also financing and leasing services for medical equipment
Electronic Health Education in Any Language (eHEAL):
This innovation aimed at digitizing essential antenatal and postnatal health information for pregnant women to be accessed via electronic Talking Books and Talking Posters
Mobile Health Insurance Programme (mHealth):
This innovation works towards achieving universal health coverage by leveraging existing mobile technology. Enrollees can register, subscribe, and manage their subscription via their mobile phones. The health services covered include both in-patient care, out-patient care and minor surgery
Increasing access to healthcare coverage by providing information to mothers via a mobile application and SMS capabilities. This tool enables mothers to easily monitor their children’s health at the touch of a button.