The World Health Organization in Africa is holding virtual hackathons and offering up to $20,000 in seed-funds to finalists with digital solutions to stem COVID-19.
The regional office of the UN agency completed its first challenge earlier this month and will host a second, for French-speaking Africa, in coming weeks, WHO’s Technical Officer Moredeck Chibi said.
According to Dr. Chibi, the WHO-AFRO Digital Hackathon series aims to prompt tech applications — with specificity to Africa — to curb the spread and negative impact of COVID-19 — which began to spike on the continent in March.
For the first virtual challenge, WHO selected participants via an online application process and split them into teams via Zoom. Groups were tasked with developing scalable concepts aligned with WHO’s current COVID-19 response strategy, which includes infection prevention and control, case management, surveillance and continuity of health services.
The winning hackathon group, led by Ghanaian Entrepreneur Laud Basing, developed a screening tool concept — operable via mobile app or USSD code — that maps COVID-19 test cases, classifies them according to the risk and provides data to national authorities to plan responses.
The team, that included Senegalese political adviser Fatou Sagna Sow, will receive $10,000 from the WHO to pilot their concept and support in attaining additional funding and expertise. WHO aggregates coronavirus data on its Africa incident tracking database.