5 OCTOBER 2023, DAKAR, SENEGAL – The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa have announced the winners of the second edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. Mrs Teniola Aderonke Adedeji (Nigeria) and Dr. Ochora Moses (Uganda) have been announced as first prize winners and Mrs Izath Nura (Uganda) and M. Abdullahi Muhammad Habibu (Nigeria) as second prize winners. The announcement was made at the Galien Forum Africa, which celebrates creativity and excellence in science in Africa. The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award supports pioneering young entrepreneurs with financial and in-kind opportunities they need to advance their innovations for better health outcomes in their communities. 

For its second edition, the Award focused on innovations to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa. Many African governments have shown their commitment to achieving UHC by 2030, but progress needs to be accelerated. The Award focused on innovation that can help extend population coverage, extend service coverage, and ensure financial protection for patients. 

“Winning the first prize of the Award further validates Pharmarun’s mission of providing fast and easy access to medication. We are committed to ensuring medication access through fostering more collaborations among pharmacies to ensure universal health coverage, beginning with medication and pharmaceutical care,” said Mrs Teniola Aderonke Adedeji, CEO of Pharmarun (Nigeria), an on-demand platform that offers a convenient solution to fragmented access to essential medications, and first prize winner of the Award.

“The Photo-Kabada team is humbled by this Award. This is an opportunity for us to move closer to our dreams of getting out of the lab into the clinical space where sick babies are. The Award is also a testament to the fact that homegrown solutions are part of the drivers of Universal Health Coverage,” said Dr. Moses Ochora, first prize winner of the Award and Co-Founder and CEO of Photo-Kabada (Uganda), a hybrid remotely monitored, phototherapy device created as a solution to reduce the burden, morbidity, and mortality associated with neonatal jaundice especially in low and middle-income countries.

Congratulating the winners, Award partners said: 

“Reaching the goal of UHC by 2030 requires substantial public sector investment and accelerated action by governments and partners, building on solid evidence and reorienting health systems to a primary health care approach, to advance equity in both the delivery of essential health services and financial protection. It also requires fresh, bold, and fit-for-purpose health innovations, and this is why the Award’s second edition was based on this theme,” said Yacine Djibo, Executive Director and Founder of Speak Up Africa.

“Huge congratulations to the winners of this year’s Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. We wanted to guarantee gender equality in this year’s awards, and I’m delighted that two women and two men have won. IFPMA continues to be committed to accelerating innovation as part of delivering Universal Healthcare Coverage, and today’s Award winners will undoubtedly make a huge contribution to this goal,” said Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA.

“Achieving universal health coverage by 2030 is crucial for fulfilling the promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and realizing the fundamental human right to health. I am very thankful and supportive of such program that significantly contributes in the achievement of our common goals through tangible and intangible support to African entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director, Neglected Tropical Disease at the World Health Organization and Jury Member of the second edition.  

11 SEPTEMBER 2023, GENEVA AND DAKAR –The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa announced 15 candidates shortlisted for the 2nd edition of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. In alphabetical order, these candidates are:

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award supports young entrepreneurs with the tools they need to advance their innovations for better health outcomes. The theme of the 2nd edition of the Awards is on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), with a focus on innovations that are extending population or service coverage and ensuring better financial protection for their communities. 

Shortlisted candidates will be in the running for financial and in-kind support and all are eligible to participate in a mini-bootcamp later this month, working with business leaders to communicate their ideas for impact.

A technical review team of leading global health and business organizations reviewed and selected 15 shortlisted candidates out of more than 180 applications. Selection was based on the extent to which each applicant met the UHC criteria, the experience, skills, and maturity of the start-up, the anticipated impact of the Award, the quality of the application, and whether the innovation made the case for contributing to a more sustainable world.

« Embracing the essential pursuit of universal health coverage, we recognize the pivotal role innovation plays in achieving this goal. We are delighted to reaffirm our partnership with IFPMA to support young bold Africans tackling our continent’s most urgent health challenges. Today, we are pleased to unveil the remarkable 15 individuals who have been shortlisted for the 2023 African Young Innovators for Health Award. »

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

« In a year dedicated to UHC and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to celebrate African youth who are applying their imaginations, skills, and expertise to help realize the dream of health for all, everywhere. Congratulations to the 15 shortlisted candidates and we look forward to announcing the final four Awardees next month at the Galien Forum Afrique. »

Greg Perry, Assistant Director General, IFPMA

Two female and two male first and second prize winners will benefit from a combined $90,000 USD to bring their innovation to life to achieve UHC in Africa. Winners will also benefit from business mentoring, strategic guidance on intellectual property rights, media training, and access to a global health and innovation network. 

Award winners will be announced on Wednesday, 4 October 2023 in a ceremony at the Forum Galien Afrique. 

The Awards program is supported by Amref Health Africa, Forum Galien Afrique, IntraHealth International, Geneva Health Forum, Women in Global Health, Adams & Adams, Global Health Technologies Coalition, Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle, Maddyness, ANA. Media partners include Africa.com, ScienceActu, and REMAPSEN.

Read the article about Dr. Shakira, member of the jury

A South African based public health practitioner and activist, Dr. Shakira Choonara, has called on African governments to make it a priority in investing more resources rightly in the health sector so as to enable the continent to achieve universal health coverage (UHC).

She was of the view that achieving UHC was not beyond the reach of African governments and that when the right investments and prioritisations are made, the region would be able to make a headway in that regard. She particularly implored African governments to focus more on disease prevention and health promotion as some of the measures needed to achieve UHC and Sustainable Development Goal-3, which is about prevention of diseases and promotion of good health. Dr. Choonara in an interview with Graphic Online said African nations could properly regulate some of the factors that cause sicknesses in the region, including tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks as well as the entire sugary industry. She said it has become necessary to enhance the quality of care in the African region, saying

« When the quality of care is low, that means we are not making progress. »

She added also that there was the need to bring down out-of-pocket expenses in the healthcare sector, noting that as a result of the inability of the governments in the region to provide the needed services in the public sector, many people are going into debts, trying to meet the cost of healthcare at the private facilities. Dr. Choonara stressed that availability and accessibility of quality healthcare delivery was prerequisite for sustainable development in any developed society and that Africa cannot develop without this—UHC.

What is UHC? 

UHC means that everyone has access to the healthcare services that they need without the risk of financial hardship when paying for them. More importantly, UHC aims to provide health care and financial protection to all people in a given country with three related objectives—equity in access; quality of health services, and financial-risk protection. In 2015, member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the third goal of the agenda focusing on health – good health and well-being. This has the attainment of UHC as its umbrella target. 

Health budgeting 

Dr. Choonara holds the conviction that UHC is achievable if things are done right, pointing out that health budgeting distribution should be properly done such that public health facilities would get the needed resources to be able to operate at the optimal levels. She expressed the concern that even though many African governments were investing in their health sectors, a chunk of such investments go to the private sector which many people could not access their services due to the high cost. Citing South Africa, for instance, Dr Choonara, who is also currently a Technical Specialist at the World Health Organisation Headquarters, supporting the Department of Health Workforce and Sexual and Reproductive Health, indicated that South Africa “has 80 per cent of its health budget going to the private sector and leaving only 20 per cent for the public sector.”

That, she described the distribution of health budget, as “inaccurate distribution of resources.” She, however, expressed the concern that when resources are put in the care of state actors, “they are not efficiently utilised” as compared to the private sector. Dr. Choonara further urged policy makers, implementers and duty bearers in the region to factor the subject of UHC in their thinking, stressing that when leaders prioritise something, they make the necessary efforts to get it done. 

Domestic resources 

She also pointed out that achieving UHC would require significant financial commitment and for the African region to do that, it needed to wean itself from donor support systems and start domestic mobilisation of resources. She explained that even though donor funding had contributed greatly towards improving the region’s health, such monies come with conditions, making it difficult for the region to channel the monies to where they are needed most.

« For as long as we are dependent on foreign aid, that means they set the priorities »

Dr. Choonara, UHC specialist

Citing HIV, for instance, she said many African nations have enough resources towards HIV related activities due to donor support systems and that such monies could not be channeled into other uses including strengthening health systems, building infrastructure, or purchasing medical equipment. 

She expressed the concern that in many African countries,

« unless something is donor-driven in the health system, nothing really happens. »

Dr. Choonara also raised concerns over structural issues in the health sector in the region, pointing out that unlike the private sector where things are properly done to function effectively and efficiently, many public health facilities in the region lacked the right structures. She said if the private sector is fast developing in terms of digitisation, modernisation and service delivery, the public sector could equally learn from it and upgrade their services.

Shortage of health personnel 

She stressed the need for African countries to provide safer environment for their health workers in order to enable them to stay. She expressed the concern that Africa continues to lose some of her finest health workers to other parts of the world due to poor conditions of service and lack of enabling environment. Dr. Choonara, who is widely recognised for her work on gender equality, sexual and reproductive health rights and youth development, said the nature of health facilities in many parts of Africa contribute to pushing many health workers out of the region.  She said many health professionals in the region had to provide care for patients without the needed equipment, which all affect their work and morale. For her, the growing exodus of health professionals from the African region “is going to have a dire impact on us” and added that “these professionals are snapped out very quickly.”

Why focus on Youth?  

Concerning the involvement of adolescents and youth in the UHC discussion, Dr. Choonara, who is also a former member of the African Union Youth Council and Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) Commission on universal health coverage in Africa, stressed that children and adolescent are so important in the discussion of UHC because “that is the age you develop your health habits and your social practices.” Similarly, she noted, when adolescents and youth are involved in the UHC discussion, it would enable them to learn to prevent certain addictive lifestyles, including consumption of alcohol, processed foods, sugary foods and tobacco.

« If you build a healthy population at that age, that means the entire life-cycle is likely to be healthy »

she said, indicating that it would also help to reduce lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension in population. Dr. Choonara argued that considering the critical role of the youth in achieving UHC, there was the need to involve the youth at all levels of decision making in order for them to make the right inputs in such thinking.

Innovation & Youth 

She also urged African governments to help innovators in the region to come up with solutions to meet the region’s health needs. She explained that many regions of the world are now depending largely on technologies and innovations to provide quality health care for their people and that Africa should not be an exception. She also entreated young innovators in the region to collaborate with the private sector if the governments are unable to meet up their funding needs. Dr. Choonara therefore commended Speak Up Africa for its initiative in providing funding support for young African health innovators.

« Having this source of incentives is excellent. It gives them a push that they need. »

For her, “having this source of incentives is excellent. It gives them a push that they need” pointing out that countries such as India and China largely rely on innovations and technology in driving their healthcare and such things are mostly led by the youth.

She also implored African governments to embrace new ways of doing things to ensure that the region is not left out in providing quality, accessible, and affordable care to its citizens at all times in all areas.

« Once the public sector healthcare system is functioning really in archaic way, nothing is going to change. »

Africa Young Innovators for Health Award 

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is a flagship programme launched by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa to recognise and reward innovative projects by young African entrepreneurs in the health sector. 

It is supported by AMREF Health Africa, BroadReach, Ecobank Academy, the Galien Foundation, IntraHealth International, Microsoft 4 Afrika, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Social Change Factory, Africa.com and Scidev.net.

The first edition of the award, launched in December 2021, highlighted innovative solutions aimed at supporting health professionals who are leading the way in delivering care and promoting health. 

Find this article on Graphic Online

Dakar, Senegal and Geneva, Switzerland, 22 May 2023 – The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Association (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa launch the second edition of their flagship program, the African Young Innovators for Health Award, on the sidelines of the 76th session of the World Health Assembly.  

This year, the Award Program seeks to find and nurture youth-driven health innovations that strive to accelerate efforts to advance Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa. UHC means that all individuals and communities have access to the full spectrum of quality healthcare services without the risk of financial hardship, ensuring « Health for All. Everywhere ».

Most African countries have UHC as a goal in their national health strategies. Yet, progress has been slow. Countries that achieve their UHC targets by 2030 will eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, strengthen resilience to public health emergencies, reduce financial hardship linked to illness, and fortify the foundations for long-term economic growth.

« Despite African countries across the continent strongly demonstrating their commitment to achieving UHC by 2030, progress toward reaching this goal has stalled, with the Covid-19 pandemic reversing many hard-earned gains. The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award provides an invaluable opportunity to leverage the ingenuity of Africa’s growing youth population to find locally adapted solutions that help our communities have greater access to affordable and quality healthcare products and services. »

Dr. Karim Bendhaou, Africa Engagement Committee Chair, IFPMA

The Award offers four winners financial support totaling 90, 000 USD to take their innovation to the next level, alongside a three-month business mentorship program with leading business figures and strategic guidance on intellectual property rights from one of Africa’s top law firms.  

« This program provides young African health innovators the chance to learn from business, media, and legal experts to further develop their healthcare innovations, join a growing community of healthcare entrepreneurs, and strengthen the health ecosystem on the continent so that Africa’s biggest health challenges can be tackled. »

Yacine Djibo, Director and Founder of Speak Up Africa, reflecting on the value the program

« The program gave me the space to identify the strengths and weaknesses in my business and helped me improve my business model to attract investors, grow my network, and successfully scale up into new areas. »

Conrad Tankou, CEO of GICMed and winner of the first edition of the Award

This year applicants must be between 21 and 35 and be able to show that they have developed a minimum viable health product or service or are in the process of developing such a product or service, with the potential to scale up their innovation to drive efforts towards achieving UHC. As a learning from the 1st edition of the Awards, men and women will be eligible for first and second place prizes each, ensuring greater gender equality in the Awards and as foundational to a UHC where no one is left behind.  

Detailed information about the Award, including the eligibility criteria for this year’s theme, is available at www.africayounginnovatorsforhealth.org. Applications open from 22 May 2023 until 25 July 2023. 

Geneva, 26 April 2022 – On World Intellectual Property (IP) Day, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) co-organized an event on ‘Innovating for Better Health: Supporting Young Innovators Through IP’, celebrating the young people who are innovating to shape health progress across the world, and particularly in Africa. The event was supported by Speak Up Africa and Geneva Health Forum.

The event aimed to spotlight the need for an enabling environment that protects, stewards, and rewards the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of young health innovators. More so than ever, the foundations of IP need to be strengthened around the world, tapping into all these innovative energies. For instance, Africa, which bears one-quarter of the global disease burden, is equally the youngest population in the world, with more than one-fifth of its working age population starting businesses. Young African entrepreneurs play a unique role in finding local solutions to the continent’s greatest health challenges, especially if they are supported by a strong, sustainable innovation ecosystem and an IP framework that support their innovations.

Through the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award and Women Innovators Incubator, IFPMA and Speak Up Africa have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to young innovators for health, uplifting pioneering young health entrepreneurs across Africa with financial and in-kind opportunities to develop their business ideas.

« This World IP Day represented a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, which was on display at this event. Young people are – without a doubt – innovating to improve health outcomes and are doing so in a manner that helps meet local needs and bolster local health systems. There is so much we are learning from them that we can apply for the future. We must encourage these young professionals and provide them with the tools, visibility, and platforms that allow their innovations to thrive ».

Thomas Cueni, Director General, IFPMA
To mark World Malaria Day, leaders, organizations and communities are coming together to stem the tide of one of Africa’s most deadly diseases.

Advocacy think-tank Speak Up Africa originally launched the Zero Malaria Starts with Me movement in 2014. Since its inception, the campaign had been launched in 23 other countries, and received an endorsement from the African Union. 

Globally, malaria remains a serious threat to global health equity. As one of the most pervasive diseases across Sub-Saharan Africa, malaria accounts for 30% to 50% of outpatient hospital visits, and approximately 20% of all hospital deaths. Furthermore, research indicates that malaria has directly resulted in adverse socioeconomic consequences.

Malaria also direly impacts future generations. As It stands, 80% of malaria deaths occur amongst African children under age five. In 2020, over 50% of all malaria deaths came from six countries: Angola, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Nigeria, the DRC, and Uganda.

The World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report noted a rise in malaria-related deaths during 2020 – thus representing roughly 69,000 more deaths, and 14 million more cases when compared to the previous year. Over two-thirds of these deaths (roughly 49,000) occurred due to disruptions in malaria care due to COVID-19.

« Every two minutes, a child dies from malaria. This troubling fact is a stark reminder that we must redouble our efforts for malaria elimination. With new tools, such as the advent of a malaria vaccine, the prospect of achieving this goal is within our reach. »

Yacine Djibo, the Executive Director for Speak Up Africa

The Zero Malaria Stars with Me campaign has been supported by a multitude of governments, partners, and organisations alike. Currently, Speak Up Africa is supporting the national malaria control programs (NMCPs) of Benin, Burkina Faso, and Senegal in implementing the Zero Malaria Starts with Me campaign.

Each country is celebrating World Malaria Day in its own way. For example, Benin hosted a nationwide TV program, which featured the Ministry of Health, civil society organizations, Ecobank, as well as technical and financial partners. In addition to this, the country held a march to garner awareness of the impact of malaria in Cové, an area ravaged by the disease. 

Since its regional launch in July 2020 by Ecobank, Speak Up Africa and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative (ZMBLI) is now in full flow in 4 African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Uganda. 

As an example of the fantastic leadership shown by companies engaged through this initiative, Canal+ is broadcasting a public service announcement on malaria in Wolof (in Senegal) and in French (across francophone Africa). The value of this important in-kind donation is over 25,000 euros. Following their donation of 1000 mosquito nets in 2021 and with other activities in the pipeline, Canal+ is demonstrating the power of the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative. 

« Senegal is in the process of developing their National Malaria Elimination Strategy, and to reach the ambitious goal of elimination by 2030, we must mobilize new partners and resources. Zero malaria starts with all of us. »

Dr. Doudou Sene, the Senegal National Malaria Control Program Coordinator

In Benin, a photo exhibition and fundraising event is slated to take place on the 29th of April under the patronage of the First Lady of Benin, which will serve to mobilize resources from the private sector as well as contribute to advocacy efforts in the lead-up to the Global Fund Replenishment Conference later this year. 

In addition, Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative champions have been leading by example this World Malaria Day, such as through the “1 employee, 1 bed net” campaign launched by pharmatician Dr. Annabelle Akue and the donation of 1000 mosquito nets by Hon. Ake Natonde. 

In Burkina Faso, medical supplier Univers Bio Medical donated 100,000 rapid diagnostic tests, a donation valued at $70,000. 

« With an initial donation of $120,000 per country, and a deep commitment to bring our expertise and network of busines clients and partners to bear on this critical public health challenge, the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative will strengthen existing resource mobilization efforts at the national level and support the effective implementation of countries’ national strategic plans for malaria control and elimination. »

Elisa Desbordes, Head of Ecobank Foundation

World Malaria Day is also a key step on the “March to Kigali”, a campaign launched in April 2021 to foster an integrated approach to advocating for the elimination of both NTDs and malaria in the run-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, on June 23rd of this year. It is led by a group of like-minded CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) representing a range of Francophone and Anglophone African nations and builds on the existing partnerships and platforms of the « No to NTDs » and « Zero Malaria Starts with Me » campaigns. 

This month, both Ghana and Guinea launched their national campaigns, with civil society organizations Jeunesse Secours of Guinea and AMMREN (African Media and Malaria Research Network) of Ghana working in collaboration with the national malaria and NTD programs. 

Thus far, around 200 organizations and individuals have signed the March to Kigali call-to-action, calling for increased prioritization and resources to tackle these preventable and treatable diseases. 

« The covid-19 pandemic’s disruptive nature means that, to a large extent, neglected tropical diseases and malaria have been overlooked in the public health space. This has led to an increase in case numbers, resulting in an increased cost and burden on the health system. We must find solutions to get back on track to meet the SDGs. »

Solomon Dopavogui, Executive Director, Jeunesse Secours, a CSO based in Guinea

We, African Voices of Science, recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated more than ever before the importance of science in modern society. Science has proved itself as our most vital tool to provide greater knowledge of the virus, and how we can best respond to the crisis.

Though Africa accounts for almost half of global deaths from communicable diseases, sub-Saharan Africa only represents around 1% of the world’s scientific output. This is unacceptable.

Today, 615 million Africans do not have sufficient access to quality healthcare. This, combined with the catastrophic rise in healthcare costs, is pushing the continent to breaking point. We urgently need greater proactivity and ownership from African governments if we are to tackle our growing healthcare deficit and respond quickly and effectively to future health threats.

Today, at the Galien Forum Africa, we call on governments, multilateral agencies and businesses to urgently expand investments in health R&D, to increase the quality and accessibility of our healthcare systems. As scientists, we are calling for the following:

Africa is plagued by misinformation around the importance of science, innovation and R&D. This is having detrimental consequences in the fight against COVID-19, increasing vaccine hesitancy and preventing the development and adoption of new tools and the efficiency of disease surveillance. We therefore call on African leaders to invest in making crucial health information accessible to Africa’s population of 1.2 billion people, in order to tackle the misinformation crisis that acts a barrier to good health.

Despite the global nature of the pandemic, global solutions are not universal or consistently applicable to regions like Africa. It is ever more evident that countries with well-established innovation infrastructure respond to crises more quickly and decisively, and that investment in developing these foundations is crucial for developing effective solutions. It is the people of Africa that know how to solve the continent’s biggest problems, and as such, we need leaders to invest in local laboratories, infrastructure and technology to ensure we can respond effectively to our communities’ existing, and future, health threats.

To successfully address Africa’s health crisis, it is critical we invest in the future, and education is at the cornerstone of this goal. We must build the next generation of scientists and ensure we promote neglected communities, most notably women, to enable representation at all levels. African leaders must increase investment in teaching and education, to elevate the future generation of scientists, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals.

COVID-19 has shown the importance of increasing access to quality medicines and exposed under-investment in R&D for medical diagnostics, with the capacity to develop and manufacture tests unevenly distributed around the world. African experts must be at the forefront of developing new testing solutions that meet our needs and are digitally connected to the health system to support pathways to treatment and strengthen disease surveillance. Organizations like the African Medicines Agency (AMA) also seek to strengthen regulatory frameworks in order to expand access to effective, safe and quality medicines for all. African leaders must engage with the AMA and other regulatory frameworks if we are to successfully transform healthcare accessibility across the continent.

History has demonstrated how crises can drive transformative change, and the COVID-19 crisis has been no different. As a result of the pandemic and social distancing strategies, we have witnessed an acceleration of digital transformation in Africa, which had previously lagged behind. After the past year, the importance of data and surveillance to target resources and tailor our response to disease cannot be denied. To achieve an efficient healthcare system, African governments and the private sector must continue to invest in technology and digital innovation.

COVID-19 has illustrated the need for cooperation between countries and regions, and the inability for a single nation to achieve health security on their own. It is imperative that African governments champion regional cooperation, which will not only enhance scientific knowledge but also enable sustainable development on the continent. Creating scientific networks and facilitating access to scientific information will also be crucial to building a strong scientific African research base that is integrated into the international scientific community. 

Over the past several years, we have collectively made tremendous progress and created innovations that will better prepare Africa for future epidemics and enable us to tackle current health challenges.

The deadline for the 2030 UN Sustainability Development goals is now getting closer. If we are to achieve health equity across the world in the next eight years, it is imperative Africa invests in targeted health R&D. We need cooperation, investment and action from our leaders immediately; the future of Africa depends on it.

List of signatories:

  1. Professor Elizabeth Bukusi, Chief Research Officer at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Kenya
  2. Prof. Georgina Odaibo, Head of Virology Department, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  3. Prof. Christian Happi, Professor of Molecular Biology Redeemers University, Nigeria
  4. Dr. Clement Meseko, National Veterinary Research Institute Jos, Nigeria
  5. Prof Glenda Gray, President and CEO of South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), South Africa
  6. Dr Carol Benn, Breast Disease Expert, South Africa
  7. Pr Abdou Salam Fall, Coordinator of the Research Laboratory on Economic and Social Transformations (LARTES – IFAN), Senegal
  8. Pr Samba Sow, Director of Center of Vaccine Development Mali, Mali
  9. Dr. Neema Kaseje, Surgeon, Médecins Sans Frontières, Kenya
  10. Prof. Oyawale Tomori, Professor of Virology, Former Vice-Chancellor, Redeemers University, Nigeria

About African Voices of Science

African Voices of Science is an initiative led by Speak Up Africa that brings together established scientists, researchers and health experts from across Africa to generate an open public discourse on key health challenges and solutions across the continent. By amplifying credible voices who can speak up for research and development and shift the narrative on COVID-19 in Africa, the initiative aims to reinforce the importance of increased investment in Africa’s Research & Development sector while building trust in health innovation.

We, as founding members of AMATA, representing patients, academia, civil society, and industry, welcome the official ratification of the AMA Treaty, which has enabled the African Medicines Agency to effectively enter into force today.

We now call on the African Union to build on the current momentum gained with the legal deposition of instrument of ratification of the Treaty by the minimum required 15 AU Member States, to prepare for the practical implementation of the Agency, ensuring the following critical elements: 

The African Medicines Agency Governing Board to recognise patients as key partners in the management structures and development of the Agency.

A solid governance structure is put in place and a seamless transition from the AMRH to the AMA is ensured. 

Robust regulatory infrastructures continue to be strengthened in all African Union Member States and at regional level.

A Secretariat is formed, and its location is decided without undue delay. 

The African Medicines Agency is equipped with adequate human resource capacity to operationalise its mandate.

The African Medicines Agency Governing Board to set up a framework of engagement with non-state actors and to draw upon all available expertise from academia, research bodies, private sector and community and patient groups to provide technical guidance on specific areas.

A sustainable funding model is implemented to ensure short and long term stability of the Agency at the time of its inception.

We congratulate the 15 Member States of the African Union that completed the process of ratification and invite all remaining AU Member States to follow in their footsteps. 

COVID-19 has demonstrated that health security will only be achieved through concerted efforts and cross-border collaboration. 

We thus call on all AU Heads of State to seize this historic opportunity to have one regulatory affairs oversight across the Continent to enhance national, regional and continental regulation of medical products and oversee rapid and effective market authorization of safe, quality, effective and accessible medical products, for the good of all African people.

Dakar, Senegal, le 16 September 2021– The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa, have announced Conrad Tankou, CEO, GIC Space (Cameroon); John Mwangi, CEO, Daktari Media (Kenya) and Imodoye Abioro, CEO, Healthbotics (Nigeria) as the winners of the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is IFPMA and Speak Up Africa’s flagship programme to provide young entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector an opportunity to develop their business ideas and advance promising solutions to support, equip, protect, and train healthcare workers. Applicants must be 18 to 35 years and be a national or resident of an African country.

The Award winners will take home a total of $75,000 in financial support and benefit from a business mentorship programme, media training and technical support with intellectual property protection, plus exposure to a renowned network of global health leaders.

First prize winner, Conrad Tankou, CEO of GIC Space developed five proprietary medical technologies, under the GICMED platform, to remotely screen and diagnose women for breast and cervical cancers. The second prize winner, John Mwangi, CEO, Daktari Media invented Daktari Online, an online medical learning platform that offers continuing medical education to healthcare professionals. The third prize winner, Imodoye Abioro, CEO, Healthbotics created an AI-powered Electronic Medical Records system, Mediverse, which is built on the blockchain and allows health workers to input and retrieve patient records with their voice, working with or without Internet access.

First prize winner, Conrad Tankou said

“It is an honour to receive the first-ever Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. This is a true endorsement of our accomplishments and testament to our goal – improving access to screening and diagnosis of breast and cervical cancers for women, even in the most remote areas. With the Award’s financial and business mentorship support, we can upgrade our technologies and start scaling our solution much quicker by investing in manufacturing capabilities and building more local partnerships.”

Speak Up Africa’s, Founder and Executive Director, Yacine Djibo said

“I continue to be impressed by the dedication, vision and creativity of young people in the healthcare sector. The Award programme is a testament to the potential but also the concrete solutions that already exist to some of the most challenging health issues not only in Africa but around the world.”

Recognising that only one fifth of applications came from women, IFPMA and Speak Up Africa also launched the Women Innovators Incubator, an initiative aimed at addressing the gaps in female-led innovation and tackling the additional hurdles women have to face to help take their business ideas from concept to implementation. Female applicants of the Award will be eligible for the programme. Participants will receive financial support, a business mentorship programme, media training and access to an expert network of supporters and partners working across, digital, healthcare and media.

Thomas Cueni, Director-General at IFPMA explained that

Our three award winners have had an amazing journey and are working on some really important innovations; and the Africa Young Innovators Award will continue in following years to find more new innovation talent.  But in future years, we would like to see more young women come forwards. There are significant imbalances between men and women in access to funding, training and skills development, professional networks, and overall participation in competitive environments. The incubator is our response to tackling these inequalities and improving access to opportunities for women in the health innovation landscapeIf we miss the potential of young women innovators, we are losing 50% of Africa’s power to innovate.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is supported by AMREF Health AfricaBroadReachEcobank AcademyForum Galien AfricaIntraHealth InternationalMicrosoft4Afrikathe Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle,  the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, and Social Change Factory, alongside our media partners: Africa.comTélésud, and SciDev.Net.

Notes to Editor

1st Prize WinnerConrad Tankou, 34, Global Innovation and Creativity Space (GIC Space), Cameroon.

GIC Space, through its flagship product, GICMED provides access to breast and cervical cancer care to women in remote and peri-urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). With over 400,000 annual deaths recorded in SSA due to inadequate access to screening and diagnosis services, absence of required diagnostic equipment, and scarcity of qualified medical specialists; GIC Space strives to ensure access to quality healthcare services through training frontline health workers in use of their innovative and sustainable med-tech solutions, to remotely screen and diagnose women with real time pathology confirmation at the point of care and thereafter link to onsite treatment through a mobile treatment unit. 

Co-founded by, Dr. Tankou, after already launching an e-health venture that has scaled to 5 countries, helping over 200,000 pregnant women. Dr. Tankou was previously on Quartz Africa Innovators top 30 list of pioneers. Previous awards, grants and honors include, best health innovation in Africa at the Next Einstein Forum Global gathering in Kigali, Rwanda.

2nd Prize Winner:  John Mwangi, 35, Daktari Media Africa, Kenya. Daktari Media Africa aims to improve the quality healthcare services in Kenya through ensuring health practitioners remain updated in this evolving field of health. Through its flagship product, Daktari Online, Daktari Media Africa provides an avenue through which the community of healthcare professionals (HCPs) can interact, train, publish research papers, attend and earn Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points. The platform – currently reaching 9,000 HCPs – is accredited as the first online continuous professional development (CPD) provider by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council (KMPDC). It is accredited by the regulatory bodies for pharmacists, pharmaceutical technologists, and clinical officers (physician assistants). Daktari Media Africa was recently one of five startups that won the 2020 Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Business Plan Competition in response to COVID-19 organized by Japan International Cooperation Agency.

3rd Prize Winner: Imodoye Abioro, 27, Healthbotics Limited, Nigeria. Founded six years ago, Healthbotics Limited is committed to solving Africa’s perennial healthcare access challenges. Through Mediverse, Dr. Abioro seeks to improve the efficiency of the health worker in delivering quality healthcare and support the health authorities track disease outbreaks faster, even in places where internet has not yet reached. Powered by artificial intelligence, Mediverse is an electronic medical records system that allows health workers to input and retrieve patient records with their voice, working with or without internet access on every device. Mediverse seeks to be the fundamental solution upon which we can build a sustainable healthcare infrastructure in Africa and directly improve quality of care with data. Dr. Abioro is a 27 year-old serial innovator and entrepreneur and is not only a medical doctor but also a self-taught IBM Cloud software developer. Dr. Abioro and his team were one of the top 30 finalist of the WHO Africa Innovation Challenge; semi-finalists at the recent 2021 Nigerian Drone Business Competition and the only two-time semifinalist innovation in the history of the CISCO Global Problem Solver Challenge. 


To learn more about the Africa Young Innovators for Health Award, please visit https://africayounginnovatorsforhealth.org/

For all other media enquiries and further details, please contact:

You can find access to photos of the winners here

About the Partners

IFPMA represents research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe. Research-based pharmaceutical companies make a unique contribution to global health as innovators of lifesaving and life-changing medicines and vaccines, which improve millions of lives around the world. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community find solutions that improve global health. 
Twitter: @IFPMA

Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. Through their platforms and relationships, and with the help of partners, Speak Up Africa ensures that policy makers meet implementers; that solutions are showcased, and that every sector – from individual citizens and civil society groups to global donors and business leaders – contributes critically to dialogue and strives to form the blueprints for concrete action for public health and sustainable development.
Twitter: @SpeakUpAfrica1

Dakar, Senegal and Geneva, Switzerland, 22 July, 2021

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa (SUA) will exclusively announce the final three winners of the first Africa Young Innovators for Health Award. The announcement will take place during the official Award ceremony from 09:30 (GMT) on Thursday, 16th September 2021. The Ceremony will be a hybrid event in Dakar, Senegal and online. 

The Awards ceremony will convene prominent healthcare leaders from across Africa and beyond, from entrepreneurs to technical, business and policy experts to celebrate African Innovation. The final three winners shall receive up to $40,000 in financial support and business mentorship and expert support and advice on intellectual property protection to help them develop their solutions to some of Africa’s most pressing healthcare challenges. 

This years’ Award theme focuses on supporting innovations that equip, protect and train healthcare workers in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s designation of 2021 as the International Year of Health and Care Workers. The year recognises the dedication of the millions of healthcare workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic.

« We believe that new solutions are needed to support, equip, protect and train healthcare workers. And young African entrepreneurs are best placed to find those solutions. The continent’s future is bright. With this Award, we are even more confident that the next generation has what it takes to improve the lot of the continent. Providing African solutions to African challenges »

 says Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa

Africa is home to the youngest population and one of the highest entrepreneurship rates in the world. The continent’s demographic dividend coupled with its enterprising skills presents a considerable opportunity to fuel innovation to help advance promising healthcare solutions.

« This Award recognises that young people are one of Africa’s greatest assets and the Ceremony will be a unique opportunity to showcase and celebrate African excellence in healthcare innovation. »

says Greg Perry, Assistant Director-General at IFPMA

The Africa Young Innovators For Health Award is also an investment in the human capital of Africa’s promising young entrepreneurs. The Award provides financial and in-kind support to three winners of the Award so they can advance their healthcare solutions and develop their great potential as enablers of change.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is supported by AMREF Health Africa, BroadReach, Ecobank Academy, IntraHealth International, Microsoft4Afrika, the Organisation Africaine de la Propriété Intellectuelle,  the Ouagadougou Partnership, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, and Social Change Factory, alongside our media partners: Africa.com, Télésud and SciDev.Net.

For all press enquiries contact:

Visit Africa Young Innovators for Health’s website

Follow our social media pages and join the conversation via #YoungInnovators4Health

Multimedia content

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About the Partners

IFPMA represents research-based pharmaceutical companies and associations across the globe. Research-based pharmaceutical companies make a unique contribution to global health as innovators of lifesaving and life-changing medicines and vaccines, which improved millions of lives around the world. Based in Geneva, IFPMA has official relations with the United Nations and contributes industry expertise to help the global health community find solutions that improve global health. 

Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank dedicated to catalysing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. Through their platforms and relationships and with the help of partners, Speak Up Africa ensures that policy makers meet implementers; that solutions are showcased and that every sector – from individual citizens and civil society groups to global donors and business leaders – contributes critically to the dialogue and strives to form the blueprints for concrete action for public health and sustainable development.

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