UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, in collaboration with Outbox, a local business incubator have awarded $10,000 (about Shs35million) to four groups of Ugandan youth innovators.
The four teams are Ecosmart pads; Bloodfinder; m-scan, and Health data harvestor.
They address challenges in: improving access to essential maternal medicines, health supplies and improving the use of data in healthcare planning, monitoring and delivery.
Their solutions include: recycling sugarcane bagasse collected from sugar factories and using it to make bio-degradable pads that will hit the market at half the price of the existing pads on the market; enabling organisations that manage distribution and storage of blood catalog and track availability of blood through an online platform to support emergency responses.
They also develop an ultrasonic probe and software to support ultrasound scanning in low resource areas so as to address the problem of inadequate ultrasound services and a web based platform/ mobile app that addresses the problem of manual patient data collection by digitizing this process for medical professionals consecutively.
“Investing in a healthier and more educated population and enabling young people to access opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, will provide young Ugandans with a favourable environment to thrive in business and private life, and to make informed and safe decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health,” said Davide Piga, UNFPA ESARO Innovations and Knowledge Management Specialist.
Meanwhile, also unveiled is the final three ‘Up Accelerate’ teams that have gone through an intense 4 months of proficient mentorship, business training, technical guidance and product development.
This marks the beginning of the second cycle that witnessed yet another set of 10 teams who pitched their innovations at an independent panel of judges.
Before a panel of judges, DrugDash, a decision support system for health facilities and drug distribution organisations to capture stock data returns.
The second innovation group is Streamline, a web and mobile application that supports health workers to easily collect data and TEHECA, a provider of care assistants who serve to provide alternative patient care to expectant and new mothers, have showcased their expertise which is key to enable them build partnerships and raise follow-on funding for sustainability.
To demonstrate the progress by the teams, Streamline is deployed to two hospitals in Mbarara and being used by up-to 35 healthcare workers. DrugDash is currently being deployed to up-to ten health care facilities in Bukedea to support thirty (30) health workers.
TEHECA has reached up-to 600 people through their awareness campaigns, and are supporting up-to 5 expectant mothers.
“I am excited by the dedication demonstrated by the three teams leaving the program, despite the intensity and short amount of time in the program, the teams were able to build their products and test their solutions with real customers,” said Richard Zulu, Outbox Team lead.
Outbox will continue to support these teams during their market pilots through mentorship, technical guidance and development of networks.
Up Accelerate is a one-year innovative program comprising 2 cycles of which the first started in November 2016 and has been successfully accomplished. It is part of a regional initiative by UNFPA East and Southern Africa Regional Office, with funding from UKAID.
The program has also been developed with support from Ministry of ICT & National Guidance, and implemented by Outbox to explore new and engaging ways to tackle pressing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges in Uganda, while promoting social entrepreneurship among young people. The second cycle is set to run up-to September 2017.