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WHO AFRO Innovation Newsletter - March 2021

03, March 2021


As part of the newly established cluster under the leadership of the Assistant Regional Director (ARD), the Innovation Unit was established to support countries better leverage emerging health innovations to better deliver healthcare. The first Regional Strategy for Scaling up Health Innovations in the African region was endorsed by the 71st Regional Committee in September 2020. The strategy seeks to support countries build capacities and institutional mechanisms to effectively harnessing opportunities presented by emerging technologies and innovations for health that can be sustainably scaled-up to accelerate and sustain better health outcomes in the African Region.

This unit operates on two strategic approaches:

    • Support countries to create demand for health innovations that meet local needs and foster development and scaling up of those innovations
    • Strengthening countries and regional innovation ecosystems that can facilitate sustainable adoption  of impactful health innovations and integrate them in the broader health systems

These two approaches drive the way we work across the organisation in an integrated fashion with other programme areas. We have an ambitious plan for 2021 and look forward to sharing updates here through our regular newsletter.

Find the Regional Strategy for Scaling Innovations here

Innovation Marketplace platform: Matching supply and demand

WHO AFRO’s first global database for emerging innovations
COVID-19 Innovations

The Innovation team recently developed the global COVID-19 innovation database. This database was generated using a custom algorithm to automate online data mining to collect and aggregate health innovations from all around the world. The list is accessible to WHO staff and partners and provides a wealth of information and inspiration to countries for adoption in their respective settings. An analysis was done from the database to generate strategic information and insights. The full report of the findings can be accessed here. Through the database, countries have started requesting for technical support to implement some of the innovations highlighted. For example, we are currently supporting South Sudan to implement a COVID-19 self-assessment app that will be used by community health workers.

Vaccine delivery innovations

As countries are finalizing their National Deployment of Covid-19 Vaccines Plans (NDVPs), an opportunity has emerged for them to identify and deploy innovative solutions to help improve the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines. The Innovation team has identified ready-to-deploy f innovations compiled in a database to facilitate smooth rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines. These innovations include microplanning tools, safety monitoring, vaccination monitoring, vaccination status, counterfeit detection and infodemic management.

Countries are encouraged to select any of the innovations as they relate to their context and challenges. GAVI has made available funding to support deployment of these innovations once countries express interest in any of the innovations. The full database can be found here.

Partnering with countries to strengthen innovation ecosystem

Uganda: The Ministry of Health in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, has requested technical assistance from WHO AFRO to establish the Health Innovation Cluster within the Ministry of Health, which will function as a coordinating platform to support scaling up of high­ impact innovations

Niger: At the request of Honorable Minister Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Niger, Mr Ibrahima Guimba Saidou, WHO AFRO Innovation team in collaboration with Smith Business School at the Queen's University in Canada, developed an investment case for establishing a global innovation space for Niger to stimulate and foster a robust innovation ecosystems aimed at attracting both regional and global partnership to support development and scaling of home grown innovations.

Botswana: The country has requested WHO AFRO support to establish an integrated e-health platform within the Ministry of Health and Wellness to better identify, scale, and track ready-to-scale innovations in Botswana. The integrated platform is designed to reinforce Botswana’s e-Health strategic goals for the overall improvement of health outcomes

Identifying, scaling and amplifying innovations : The WHO AFRO Innovation Challenge follow up study

In 2018, the Regional Director, Dr Moeti launched the first WHO AFRO Innovation challenge that aimed at sourcing and selecting innovations that could be sustainably scaled to improve health outcomes and quality of life, and to offer solutions to unmet health needs in Africa. The response to this call was overwhelming, attracting over 2,400 entrants from the continent and beyond.

To explore the impact of this initiative, the innovation team undertook a two-year follow up study on the 30 winning innovators from the Innovation Challenge. The study aimed at examining the experiences of African innovators in their innovation journey and gather perspectives to inform the innovation ecosystem players. These actors include governments, private sector entities, innovators, and other partners, to make informed decisions on what has worked, what strategies can be used to successfully scale high potential health innovations in the region, and what challenges remain.

To access the full report, click on the photo or link here.

COVID-19 Innovation

The work on innovations related to COVID-19 has been topical and was recently featured on WHO AFRO’s Health Spotlight podcast. Please listen to the podcast to learn more.

Health Spotlight Podcast

Watch the latest innovation press briefing here


Connect with us!

Please access our webpage for additional Innovation related information:

For specific inquiries, please contact: Dr. Moredreck Chibi


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