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WHO AFRO Innovation Newsletter - September 2021

08, October 2021

Innovation Highlights

Global showcase for Mental Health Innovations from the African Region


The second session of the innovation impact series aimed at shining the spotlight on innovations that have a high level of impact across regions was held virtually on the 29th of September.

The event series titled “Innovation for health Impact” was an interactive session with the WHO Director General - Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and the WHO Regional Director for Africa- Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

Dr Tedros and Dr Moeti hosting the Innovation Impact Series event: Learning from AFRO’s Scaling of Mental Health Innovations

The session featured how the WHO approach to scaling and sustaining innovations is improving health outcomes in response to public health demands captured across countries. The theme was around leveraging innovations to improve mental health in the AFRO region and three mental health innovations were featured. These are the Friendship Bench from Zimbabwe, The Erq Ma’ed – or ‘Reconciliation table’ from Ethiopia and The SEEK-GSP programme from Uganda.

Insights on how the WHO Innovation Scaling framework was used as an approach for successful community engagement for mental health and psychosocial wellbeing through the community in the AFRO region was discussed by WHO country, regional and HQ staffThe link to the session can be found here.

Check out updates on our marketplace for emerging innovations targeting disease areas

Non-communicable diseases: A compilation of key technological innovations that have been developed across the world to address the NCDs including Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, preventable cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health conditions and injuries

Malaria Malaria services: Innovation uptake has played a significant role in strengthening response to Malaria globally. The goal is to share information on the malaria technological innovations that have already made a difference in other parts of the World for Adaptation and scaling in the African region.

 HIV services: Key HIV services technological innovations that have been developed across the world targeting various components of the response, that include prevention, diagnostics, HIV Services access, treatment, behavioral change and strategic information

rmch RMNCH services: A compilation of key technological innovations that have been developed across the world to address RMNCH targeting various components of the response, that include reproductive services, maternal, neonatal and childcare.

WHO Western Pacific Innovation Challenge

unnamed WHO AFRO inspires WPRO to launch its first Innovation Challenge

Dr Takeshi Kasai, WPROWHO Regional Director.

The World Health Organization in the Western Pacific Region has launched the first WHO Western Pacific Innovation Challenge. This innovation challenge coined Innovation for the Future of Public Health is calling for innovators in the Western Pacific Region to submit their ideas and solutions that address better health and well-being of people across the following areas:

  • Covid-19 Innovation: having an immediate and future impact on COVID-19 preparedness and response, potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life, and/or offer a solution to an unmet health need.
  • Universal health coverageensuring all people and communities have access to quality health services where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.
  • Health security and emergency: saving lives and protecting health in all situations including health threats from disease outbreaks, natural disasters and conflicts.
  • Healthy environments and populations: creating healthier environments, better food choices, safer settings and inclusive health services for a healthy start for every new-born, and a long life for every person.
  • Disease elimination and control: reducing the number of new infections and efficiently treat people currently infected by a communicable disease, or affected by a noncommunicable disease

This call for innovation from the WHO Western Pacific region stemmed from the learnings and successes exemplified from the WHO AFRO Innovation Challenge that was held in 2018. The WHO AFRO innovation challenge was an opportunity to source, select and highlight the level of innovation across the African region.  Dr Moredreck Chibi shared some key insights and learnings at the launch event on how WPRO could leverage WHO AFRO’s innovation experience. The WPRO Innovation Challenge launch was held on the 24th of September.

The WPRO innovation challenge is open to interested innovators from the WHO Western Pacific member states to submit their applications electronically via the link. Closing date for submissions will be on Sunday 31 October 2021, 11:59 PM Manila Time (GMT +8)

WHO AFRO shaping the innovation agenda through collaborating with strategic partners to accelerate attainment of Universal Health Coverage

WHO AFRO partnered with the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award to launch its first competition this year designed to highlight and support the work of pioneering young African entrepreneurs developing health innovations. The award is the flagship program between the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa (SUA). The award program attracted over 300 applications of solutions.

Three winners selected from the competition received financial rewards up to USD$40,000.00 for the first prize, USD$20,000.00 second prize and USD$15,000.00 third prize.  The winners were Mr. Conrad Tankou (Cameroon) from GIC Space that developed five proprietary medical technologies, under the GICMED platform, to remotely screen and diagnose women for breast and cervical cancers; Mr. John Mwangi (Kenya) from Daktari Media who developed an online medical  learning platform that offers continuing medical education to healthcare professionals and finally Mr. Imodoye (Nigeria) from the Healthbiotics  who developed an AI-powered Electronic Medical Records system built on the blockchain that allows health workers to input and retrieve patient records with their voice, working with or without Internet access.

EpiAFRIC held a 2-day Hackathon from Friday the 10th of September to Saturday the 11th of September. The hackathon titled Health Meets Tech was aimed at building an ecosystem of health and tech practitioners to design and deploy contextually relevant tech solutions across Africa.

The Hackathon drew participation from the teams of developers, business and tech practitioners. These were brought together to develop viable solutions aimed at improving both population health and clinical care. Emphasis was on technology driven solutions specifically focused on navigating and strengthening healthcare post-COVID-19. The hackathon was held virtually at the Ventures Platform in Abuja, Nigeria and also included panel discussions and a mentorship program. 

In his participation as a guest speaker, Dr Moredreck Chibi, the WHO AFRO Innovation lead emphasised the point that the furture of health healthcare in Africa should be underpinned by harnessing home grown innovative solutions. Dr Chibi offered WHO’s support to showcase the winning innovations on the WHO AFRO Innovation marketplace platform, which currently enjoys patronage of millions of subscribers. The platform was designed to match supply and demand of needs driven innovations, and to facilitate scaling up.


Check it out!


WHO has created an online forum for discussions on pandemic response solutions in collaboration with the Digital Health and Interoperability Working Group. Share ideas and constructive contributions with people from around the world at the link below: WHO Pandemic Response Forums




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Please access our webpage for additional innovation related information:

For specific inquiries, please contact Dr. Moredreck Chibi at



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  Emmanuel Ugwu