WHO to curb COVID-19, offers $20,000 to tech start-ups

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has become difficult to curb globally, forcing countries to order a lockdown, restricting movements of their citizens.

Despite the numerous measures put in place by governments to curb the spread of the pandemic, the number of confirmed cases recorded on a daily basis has continued to soar. In Africa, there are about 6,23 COVID-19 cases and 240 confirmed deaths.

Due to the fact that the infectious disease has no cure yet and has defied all concerted efforts to end it, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is facilitating a tech-enabled solution to identify and curb its spread in Africa through virtual hackathons by offering $20,000 funding to tech startups.

According to WHO’s Technical Officer, Moredeck Chibi, the WHO-AFRO Digital Hackathon series will focus on Africa. With several applications already received, the first challenge was completed earlier this month.

Details: The United Nation agency had selected participants through online applications, splitting them into groups via videoconferencing app, Zoom.

The applicants were tasked to develop concepts around response strategy, which includes infection prevention and control, case management, surveillance and continuity of health services. All these align with the WHO’s response strategy for COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghanaian Entrepreneur, Laud Basing, led the winning hackathon group which was awarded $10,000 to pilot its concept. The group created a screening tool concept which is enabled by a mobile app or USSD code. According to TechCrunch, the concept maps COVID-19 test cases, classify them according to risk and provide data to national authorities to plan responses.

WHO will also support in locating additional funding and expertise. In the coming weeks, the second hackathon challenge will be held for Francophone countries in Africa. The Hackathon series is expected to help African countries manage the virus outbreak better, as the number of confirmed cases is lower than what is obtainable Europe and the United States.

The tech space effort in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic follows other efforts of other sectors such as donations for testing materials and isolation centres. In Nigeria, the banking industry has been at the forefront of donations to support medical practitioners.

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