Building the future of pandemic preparedness through open source solutions

By Yanina Semenchenko

Photo by WFP/Henrietta Moore, in Bonthe District, Sierra Leone

The Digital Health Innovation Acceleration Programme (DHIAP), launched in 2021, is powered by the WFP Innovation Accelerator and BMZ digilab — the innovation lab for digital solutions, initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the German Development Bank KfW, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The first chapter of DHIAP, called “Open Challenge,” is focused on accelerating scalable digital innovations that can advance pandemic preparedness and support the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination rollout. To reduce fragmentation and duplication, create further opportunities for collaboration and accelerate impact, the programme targets innovations that use open standards, open source or open data approaches towards creating global goods.

The Call for Innovation was open to all innovators with a demonstrated proof-of-concept with initial traction, a sustainable business model, and a clear path to scale. Out of 197 applicants from 48 countries, eight ventures have been selected for the WFP Innovation Bootcamp — an intense fully virtual training programme, consisting of cohort-wide and individual sessions with technical and industry mentors in the digital health space — to further develop and refine their proposals.

After the Bootcamp, teams had the opportunity to apply to a WFP Sprint Programme, a six to twelve months acceleration programme with access to up to US$ 250,000 in equity-free funding and hands-on support.

Following a structured selection, focused on the evaluation of the impact and scalability of the idea, the business model, the team, innovativeness and traction, and a rigorous due diligence process, three teams were selected for the WFP Sprint Programme, which kicked off on 25 August 2022. Each team will receive up to US$ 250,000 in funding, and access to tailored mentoring and coaching support, and cohort-wide networking events.

About the innovators:

MedTrack

Photo: MedTrack

One of the major challenges that healthcare providers face is ensuring continuity and consistency across various caregiving systems. Electronic health records (EHR) is the way forward for medicine, but there is no universal system that allows providers to share patient data across different facilities.

MedTrack is a health information management solution for healthcare providers and patients, that allows facilities to capture a comprehensive picture of patient health information, medical history and other clinical data while also ensuring data privacy.

During the WFP Sprint Programme, MedTrack will work on further development and pilot of a cloud-based EHR system that integrates medical records with national digital identification in Ghana. This will give healthcare providers real-time access to patient data and allow for continuity of care, while also providing a secure way to store and share patient information. Access to patient information is permission-based. MedTrack also uses encryption to ensure that sensitive patient data is only accessible by authorized personnel.

OpenFn

Photo: OpenFn. Lwala Community Health Workers conducting household visits in Migori County, Kenya. Lwala has used OpenFn to build a real-time decision support tool for community health workers.

Securely sharing data on outbreaks, automatically triggering shipments in complex supply chains and scaling digital processes that cut across different organizations and systems — all of these are critical for delivering effective public health interventions, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OpenFn is a Digital Public Good (DPG) for workflow automation, driving efficiency in the social sector by helping organizations achieve real-time, enterprise-grade systems interoperability and scale their interventions with confidence.

During the WFP Innovation Sprint, the team behind OpenFn will be working on the iterative design, development, and launch of a solution to empower governments in low- and middle-income countries to automate their critical workflows and improve pandemic preparedness and response.

Simprints

Photo: Simprints

Today, nearly 1 billion people globally lack any formal identification or ID. Lack of reliable ID is a serious bottleneck to delivering essential health services such as vaccinations during a pandemic.

Simprints builds biometric technology for use by governments, non-government organizations, and nonprofits for people in low and middle-income countries who lack proof of legal identity.

During the WFP Innovation Sprint, Simprints will be working on developing and testing a safe, ethical, and inclusive solution to verify vaccine delivery, fight pandemics and strengthen health systems globally

Congratulations to the three teams of innovators and best of luck in the implementation of their ambitious projects!

The WFP Innovation Accelerator sources, supports and scales high-potential solutions to end hunger worldwide. We provide WFP staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and non-governmental organizations with access to funding, mentorship, hands-on support and WFP operations.

Find out more about us: http://innovation.wfp.org. Subscribe to our e-newsletter. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn and watch our videos on YouTube.

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WFP Innovation Accelerator

WFP Innovation Accelerator

Sourcing, supporting and scaling high-impact innovations to disrupt hunger.