COVID-19 spurs health innovations in Africa: WHO

31-10-2020

Nairobi, Oct 30 (UNI) A senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Friday that African youth have come up with innovations that pose health challenges during the Coronavirus epidemic.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said the continent is currently the new frontier for health innovations spurred by the pandemic.

"COVID-19 is one of the most serious health challenges in a generation, but it is also an opportunity to drive forward innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship in life-saving health technologies," Moeti said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

A WHO analysis indicates that more than 120 health innovations have been piloted in Africa since the pandemic was reported in the continent early this year.

Africa accounts for 12.8 percent of 1,000 new or modified technologies that have been developed globally to strengthen COVID-19 response in key areas like surveillance, contact tracing and treatment.

"It is great to see the youthful energy of the continent fired up to fight COVID-19," Moeti said. "Solar-powered automatic handwashing tools, mobile applications that build on Africa's rapidly growing connectivity... these home-grown innovations are uniquely adapted to the African context."

According to the WHO analysis, 57.8 percent of health technologies and innovations in Africa were driven by information and communications technology (ICT). The analysis cited ICT-based innovations such as WhatsApp chatbots in South Africa.

South Africa had the highest number of health innovations linked to COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa.

It is encouraging to see a flood of health innovations in Africa during the epidemic era, Moeti said, adding that a strong policy and regulatory environment and financing are key to realizing long-term benefits.