African innovation in african health care

A unique collaboration between the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences and the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) was launched in 2013 to pioneer inclusive and innovative solutions to healthcare challenges in Africa.

Jointly based in the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the GSB and in the Department of Medicine and Groote Schuur Hospital, the Inclusive Health Innovation Initiative (IHII) is a response to the complexity of the challenges facing health care.

“Now, more than ever, innovation is required to develop solutions that can improve the delivery of health care in Africa in an inclusive, effective and affordable manner,” says Dr François Bonnici, director of the Bertha Centre. “These solutions must transcend current challenges in the system to improve health outcomes for patients, but also to change the routines, responsibility and values of our health workers responsible for delivering the care.”

Kicking off its activities, the IHII hosted a summit in Cape Town in January 2014, the first of its kind in Africa, that gave international and local innovators, experts and influencers the opportunity to discuss and debate what healthcare innovation means in and for an African context. The summit was one of the first official events on the World Design Capital 2014 calendar, and was organised around the theme of “designing solutions, addressing needs”.

The IHII also hosted the country’s first health hackathon a week before the summit. Based on a proven international innovation model, this event exposed participants to the role technology can play in transforming healthcare delivery in an African context, and challenged participants to create and build innovative mobile health applications that addressed real and pressing health challenges.

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