Feb 12, 2013 Old News

Youth mHealth Innovation Competition

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The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) is joint sponsor of the mHealth IT Youth Innovation Competition which was launched on Tuesday 29th January 2013 at Masa Centre in Gaborone. The competition is the first of its kind in Botswana where youth are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas that can improve public health and health care delivery in Botswana.

Botswana’s public health care system faces many challenges. In addition to being burdened by HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria, the healthcare system suffers from a shortage of healthcare workers and reliable Information Technologies (IT) infrastructure, particularly outside of urban areas.

In the midst of these challenges however, Botswana is ranked second in Africa in terms mobile technology penetration, with 1.34 mobile subscriptions per capita which scores far above the world average. Mobile Health (AKA: “mHealth”) is the utilization of mobile technology in the practice of medicine and public health. It is a relatively young and broad field, but has already shown tremendous promise to improve healthcare in Botswana and around the world.

The rapid growth of mobile technology and social media provides tools and opportunities to address healthcare challenges like never before. The mHealth IT Youth Innovation Competition encourages youth to come up with innovative ideas that can improve public health and health care delivery in Botswana.

Speaking at the launch of the competition, Botswana Innovation Hub CEO Alan Boshwaen, said the World Economic Forum’s Global Competiveness report of 2011 – 2012 identifies particular challenges for Botswana relating to innovation technology readiness and business sophistication. He said this scenario calls for the creation of an innovation supporting ecosystem as a future driving force of economic growth and diversification.

He informed the audience that the Botswana Innovation Hub was established to serve as a unique platform and catalyser for technology-driven businesses to grow and compete in regional and global markets. He stated that Botswana Innovation Hub had therefore embarked upon key projects and programmes that support such technology entrepreneurship and innovation.

“In doing so it is important to leverage the knowledge, expertise and creativity of academic institutions in Botswana and internationally, industry and government into what is commonly called the Triple Helix Model that harnesses these role players to enable technology transfer, create a conducive policy environment, for new business to establish and thrive and to go to market with new innovative products and services,” he said.

Boshwaen said all of this will be most impactful if closely related to pressing challenges of youth unemployment, in sectors where there is an opportunity such as ICT, enhancing agriculture and health outcomes and the mining sector.

He we encouraged young people to enter the competition which is cosponsored by; Botswana – Upenn Partnership Health Informatics Pgrogramme, Cadline, UNICEF, Orange Botswana, Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Health and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The range of sponsoring institutions provides depth and a broad spectrum for contestants to benefit from and showcase their entrepreneurial ideas. “Beyond the cash prize the winner will receive mentoring and other resources to help develop their prototypes and commercialise the concepts. It is our hope that they will build a unique profile extending possibly beyond our borders,” said Boshwaen.

The competition is an open event designed to engage and grow Batswana youths’ vision, talent, and entrepreneurship and leverage the vast potential impact that mHealth can have on Botswana’s healthcare system. The competition provides youth with a chance to bring ideas that can improve public health and health care delivery in Botswana to life… and save lives!

Information site: http://botsyouthmhealth.eventbrite.com/