Mbarara, Uganda, 26 August 2018 – Innovating to improve community health services to attain universal health coverage during the 6th Annual CAMTech UGANDA Medtech Hack-a-thon, Virtual Health Team received 3.5 million UGX as the grand prize winners. Their affordable medical technology is an app that trains Village Health Team workers (VHTs) to provide health education tools for their communities in a profit-sharing model that incentivizes VHTs.

CAMTech UGANDA awarded the 2018 Hack-a-thon winners over 8 million UGX in prize money. Judges gathered at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) to also name Team Digital Speaking Assistant (DSA) as First Runner-Up, Team Breast Me Bag as Second Runner-Up and Team WASH as Third Runner-Up. Team DSA received 2.8 million UGX for innovating a device that improves communication between health providers and the hearing impaired, Team Breast Me Bag received 2.1 million UGX for innovating temperature-controlled storage for breast milk and Team WASH received 1.165 million UGX for innovating a system that reinforces hand washing reminders. Honorable mentions and 365,000 UGX were also awarded to Team Mosquito Attracting & Killing (MAAK) Bulb and Helping Mothers Team (HMT).

In addition to receiving prize money, CAMTech UGANDA, part of the MUST Center for Innovation and Technology Transfer, will offer all 40 teams from the Hack-a-thon an opportunity to compete for membership in the CAMTech Accelerator Program (CAP). An initiative on the CAMTech Innovation Platform, the CAP provides milestone-based funding, a CAP Coach, participation in the CAP Cohort, expert match-making and acceleration support.   

More than 290 clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, students and designers convened at MUST for 48 hours to develop innovative medical technologies to improve community health services to attain universal health coverage. Participants pitched 71 challenges related to community health services, formed multi-disciplinary teams, prototyped solutions and developed business models before presenting their ideas to an expert panel of judges.

“It’s so surprising what can come out of a group of people who are passionate about reaching solutions,” said Dr. Kristian Olson, Director of CAMTech. “We’re coming up with solutions to engage the end-user in what would make their lives easier, more fulfilling and more productive. We want to see not one spark from this weekend, not two sparks, but many sparks that are moving the needle on obtaining community health access.”

Prior to the Hack-a-thon on 25-26 August, CAMTech UGANDA hosted a Challenge Summit on 24 August, featuring panel discussions focused on community participation, service delivery and health information management.

“A problem that is identified by a human being is exactly the same problem that a human being can solve,” said Dr. Data Santorino, CAMTech UGANDA Country Manager.

With support from Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health, MUST, Central Public Health Laboratories, the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Institute and RENU, CAMTech UGANDA organized the annual Hack-a-thon to develop disruptive innovations that have the potential to achieve widespread public health impact.

“This is all part of a larger program where the Department of Community Health, the Nursing Department and CAMTech are working together by solving problems in community health to obtain healthcare access and needed health interventions for people who aren’t able to obtain them as easily as they should,” Olson said.

The Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech) is a global network of academic, corporate and implementation partners whose mission is to build entrepreneurial capacity and accelerate medical technology development through an open innovation platform. CAMTech innovators who come from public health, clinical medicine, engineering and business work with end-users in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). CAMTech UGANDA is administratively housed at MUST and supports local innovators to transform ideas into solutions that can revolutionize health outcomes for people living in Uganda and across the globe.