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WHO AFRO Innovation Newsletter - May 2021

04, June 2021

Innovation Highlights

Innovation Market place platform: A dynamic and robust platform for match making supply and demand of impactful innovations

WHO AFRO has worked steadily over the last year to build a robust platform to support its work on scaling health innovations in the African Region. This platform recently achieved the milestone of over 1,000,000 subscribers! The platform is multifaceted and provides a variety of resources for health sector, innovators, leaders and policy makers. It includes:

  • Databases that aggregate global innovations related to key programmatic areas: COVID-19, HIV services, NCDs, RMNCH and vaccine delivery
  • Highlights of innovation success stories from across the region
  • Provides a forum for innovators to interact and information sharing
  • A repository for our publications, media and events related to innovation: Click here to create your profile and join the WHO AFRO innovation conversation!
Vaccine Delivery Innovations for COVID-19 vaccines
Making global innovative solutions more accessible to Africa

Innovations for vaccine delivery present exciting opportunities to enhance the impact and cost-effectiveness of vaccination programs, including the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines. However, countries are not always aware of existing vaccine delivery innovations that could potentially be implemented in their context. To make innovations accessible and available to countries in Africa, the WHO AFRO Innovation Unit recently published an analysis of 1000 key innovations that have been developed globally targeting different vaccine delivery intervention areas.

One thousand technological innovations were electronically retrieved from scientific databases that include PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, IEEE & Science Direct; organizations’ and companies’ websites; and media pages using a custom web text-mining algorithm. Only innovations that are being piloted, transitioning-to-scale or have been fully adopted were considered for analysis. The innovations that were prioritized are the ones that could be applied in six categories for vaccine delivery interventions, which are micro-planning, counterfeit detection, vaccination status, vaccination monitoring, safety monitoring, and infodemic management. The comprehensive list of the innovations identified in this study are presented on the WHO AFRO web platform. The full paper with analysis findings can be found here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for countries to think outside the box and apply innovative strategies that accelerate improvements in the lives of people affected by this deadly disease. Leveraging innovations is certainly one way of increasing efficiency and effectiveness among many African countries where limited supply of vaccines is still a big challenge. It is our hope that countries will take advantage of the database and consider adaptation and scaling up these innovations as they implement their vaccine strategies to respond to their context


Legacy from the inaugural WHO AFRO Innovation Challenge continues
Winners continue to be recognized

Laud Basing, the Ghanaian innovator, whose innovation was profiled as one of the best 30 innovations from the WHO AFRO Innovation challenge, developed diagnostic kit that provides improved point of care test for yaws, a disease impacting rural communities primarily in Ghana. The innovation has since scaled up its supply of test kits to four countries - Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire and the United States. With the support from WHO AFRO, the innovator managed to raise $250K in grants and investment partnerships and generated sustainable revenues with a 275% increase in 2020 over 2019 revenues.

Laud was recently recognized in commemoration of  the 2021 Africa Day by the TEFConnect, which is the leading digital networking platform for African entrepreneurs through its annual initiative #TEFConnectAfrica50: 50 Entrepreneurs to Connect with in Africa. The initiative was set up to highlight and project entrepreneurs across the continent whose businesses are making a positive impact. He was recognized for adapting to match the demands of the market and facing the challenges of COVID-19 head on. Laud was also recognized among the 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians by Avance Media as part of their annual program to celebrate and honor hard working youth in various sectors

The WHO AFRO Innovation Challenge winner, Morenike Fajemisin, recently made headlines by emerging as one of the five winners of Bayer Foundation Women Empowerment Fund 2021.  Her organization, Whispa mobile app, was evaluated by the Bayer Foundation  and she was selected as one of the top 10 candidates for the Women Empowerment Award 2021 after a comprehensive evaluation of the 399 applications worldwide, including two rounds of pre-selections, due diligence process and interviews. Winners are rewarded with a cash prize and join a 24-week Accelerator Program provided by Endeva and the AfCE - Academy for Corporate Entrepreneurship.

WHISPA is a mobile application that provides users with sexual health, information, products, and services in a private and convenient manner. Its ask-a-doctor feature allows the user to consult a qualified doctor in private. An intelligent application screens users for contraceptive eligibility and provides referrals to an affordable hospital near them. WHISPA also provides other sexual health products including STI test kits, condoms and more.

Since the Innovation Challenge, this organization has conducted over 3,000 paid consultations with their doctors and processed over 200 orders for sexual health products including HIV tests and contraceptives. The demand for services provided through the WHISPA app increased during COVID-19, as many youths could not easily access health facilities due to lockdowns, thus resorting to services provided online.

Resources and opportunities
For African Innovators

WHO AFRO supports a number of partners in innovation work across the region. There are several open calls and opportunities for innovators to access resources to scale their work!

Since 2010, Stars in Global Health has supported Bold Ideas with Big Impact®, providing funding to explore transformative ideas at proof-of-concept that bring together scientific/ technical, social and business innovation, to address some of the most pressing global health challenges.

Stars in Global Health launched its 11th call for proposals. This call for proposals seeks bold ideas that will improve the access, use and quality of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services and to be resilient to pandemic control measures like those introduced to control COVID-19. Of particular interest to Grand Challenges Canada are innovations that improve responses to sexual- and gender-based violence. Successful proposals will be awarded seed grants of up to $100,000 CAD for up to 12 months to develop and test the proposed innovation. More information can be found on the Stars in Global Health page.


Galien Africa is launching a call for applications for the "Prix Galien Africa" which rewards excellence and innovation for products, services and initiatives that are highly convincing or promising in the field of innovative discoveries and therapies for the benefit of humanity. It aims to reward researchers, institutions and pharmaceutical industries from the public or private sector that have successfully developed initiatives, services, pharmaceutical, biotechnological, phytotherapy, diagnostic products and medical devices recently introduced on the African market.

The prize categories to be awarded are: best pharmaceutical product, traditherapy product, biotechnology product, medical technology (medical device, diagnositics).

Closing date : Wednesday June 30, 2021 at 23:59 p.m. (GMT )

Applications can be submitted electronically using the form available at:

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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