COVIDaction Highlights 30 Resilient Health Systems Innovations

Ian MatthewsNews

What is the role of technology in building the resilience of health systems?

How can we use technology platforms and innovations to change the delivery models of health services, enabling prevention, health promotion, health education, surveillance and service deliver?

How do we engage communities to increase trust in the health system, ensuring that people seek care when appropriate and follow public health advice?

Which processes exist for collection and use of data to enable surveillance useful for immediate COVID-19 response and continued delivery of essential health services?

To address these issues, DFID (Department for International Development), as part of its COVIDaction initiative, and its partners issued a call for innovations for Resilient Health Systems earlier this summer.  The Open Call aimed to focus attention and build a community around an essential part of the pandemic response: the maintenance of essential health services (RMNACH, NCDs, nutrition, malaria, HIV/Aids, TB etc). These services, as we continue to see, are threatened by reduced access and limited utilization due to resources diverted for COVID-19, population hesitancy to seek care, postponement of routine and selective services, among other reasons.

The Top 30 finalists were announced on September 10th from a pool of more than 550 applicants, and represent five percent of the total submissions. They showcase a wide range of innovations proposed to build resilient health systems in Africa and South Asia, with an emphasis on the maintenance of essential health services through the pandemic and beyond.

The Top 30 includes a variety of strategies to mitigate health service disruptions, including online patient consultations, changes to supply chain strategies, and new platforms for data collection and health information communications.

The Top 30 showcases a wide range of innovations to build resilient health systems such as mHealth, drones, digital community scorecards and more. For info on each of the Top 30 from around the globe, see here.

Applications were evaluated by a global network of 36 independent expert reviewers, who considered evaluation criteria including impact and reach, evidence of demand, readiness to deploy, implementation feasibility and more.

GBCHealth, in partnership with Greenmash and the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project, is in the Top 30 for Mango, a robust, flexible and scalable platform to improve commodity tracking, reduce stock-outs and enhance timely data essential in managing outbreaks, treatments and health education.

The system is particularly well suited for low and middle-income countries, and remote environments with poor communications infrastructure.  The fragility of health systems in the region calls for a focus on prevention and on increasing knowledge and access to real time data to help protect communities from the coronavirus and in managing other health related issues.  Mango will enable real-time reporting of data from primary health facility level on a regular basis using mobile technology and messaging, supporting one the SWEDD program’s main objectives to increase women and girl’s empowerment and access to quality and reliable RMNCAH products and services.  It complements SWEDD’s advocacy, awareness-raising and community campaigns to further strengthen networks, information flow and access to critical commodities. 

COVIDaction wrote that the focus on resilient health systems and continuity of essential health services “is more important than ever, as a new pulse survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that 90% of countries experienced disruptions of essential health services during the pandemic,” and WHO stressed that “documentation and learning about what works in different settings in terms of mitigation strategies” is needed.

COVIDaction, a partnership between DFID’s Frontier Technology Hub, Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), UCL’s Institute of Healthcare Engineering along with other collaborators, scans the globe for promising ideas, and evaluates & supports the best ideas with the goal of developing and sharing these innovations as global goods. COVIDaction aims to support the COVID-19 response & recovery by supporting tech & innovation.

COVIDaction operates in three focus areas:

  • Local Production & Solutions – how have pivots in local production and novel approaches met local needs?
  • Data – what are the best tools for using data to inform decision-making?
  • Resilient Health Systems – what are the technologies that extend the reach, coordination and continuity of health services from hospitals and clinics to communities and households?

 For more info and updates on the Resilient Health Systems Top 30, follow COVIDaction on Twitter – @COVIDactionTech.

Ian MatthewsCOVIDaction Highlights 30 Resilient Health Systems Innovations