Pinoy innovations win 1st WHO Western Pacific Public Health Challenge

Pinoy innovations WHO Western Pacific Public Health Challenge
Six organizations from the Philippines won the inaugural World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Innovation Challenge for their winning solutions to health challenges. Photos and screengrabs from winning innovations via WHO website.

Six public health innovations from the Philippines have won the first World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Innovation Challenge: Innovation for the Future of Public Health.

Filipino innovators and Philippine-based organizations bagged awards for their proposed solutions to health challenges in the inaugural edition of the competition which selected 29 winning innovations out of 400 submissions from member countries.

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Winning solutions from the country include a vaccination management system, an innovation that incorporates water pumps that do not need electricity, a post-super typhoon Haiyan disease prevention, and control program, a tele-contact investigation and tuberculosis (TB) prevention project, a stress management program, and a COVID-19 AI chatbot.

This year’s winners of the WHO’s Western Pacific Innovation Challenge showcased their solutions at the 2022 Western Pacific Innovation Forum: Scaling for Impact held from April 28 to 29, 2022.

AHA! Behavioral Design

AHA! Behavioral Design, a product development software company, in partnership with the Department of Health Philippines, developed a winning solution called “Address the Stress,” a behavioral program aimed at helping promote and improve the mental and emotional wellbeing of public health workers in the Philippines.

Bolstering the existing communication campaigns of the DOH, the program designed and tested minimally intrusive mental health nudges. The tools are grounded on widely-studied resilience strategies “such as breathing, grounding, and gratitude behaviors—and are based on the context and experiences of our frontliners.”

To date, 26 public hospitals nationwide, with over 1500 healthcare workers, use the tools. A program playbook was also created to make it easier for other hospitals to replicate and implement the programme in their own facilities seamlessly.

AI4GOV

Social tech startup AI4GOV, in partnership with the Department of Health Philippines, won for its solution called the “KontraCOVIDbot,” an AI-powered chatbot that responds to COVID-related queries.

The solution combines three components: automated processing and answering of thousands of queries on COVID-19 and Vaccines aimed at processing queries more efficiently for the health communications staff of the DOH.

“Its automated processing enhanced the speed of processing by 18 times compared to human processing. More than 1.2 million people have used the programme for more than 33.5 million interactions. It also marked 6 times increase in tracing speed and 12 times increase in daily data processing for the digital triage function in the pilot city using the active surveillance feature,” AI4GOV’s KontraCOVIDbot’s description on the competition website reads.

Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc. (AIDFI)

Alternative Indigenous Development Foundation, Inc (AIDFI), cofounded by Auke Idzenga, a Dutch-born marine engineer, won for its solution called “The Only Way is Up: pumping water uphill and changing lives.”

The AIDFI’s winning solution incorporates a ram pump, a device that pumps water from lower to higher elevations without the use of electricity and fuel. The pump is installed as an end-to-end solution in waterless upland communities and is under their control.

CP Health Innovations Inc. (CareGoEMR)

CareGo EMR is an early-stage startup that is focused on co-developing healthcare innovation with rural communities in the Philippines. It is a vaccination management and SMS nudge system that aims to be an all-in-one field app for health workers on the ground.

FHI 360 (TB Innovations and Health Systems Strengthening Project)

Nonprofit human development organization FHI 360 won for its innovation called the “Tele-contact investigation and tuberculosis (TB) prevention amid COVID-19: utilizing mathematical modelling to aid participatory governance in the Philippines.”

The solution incorporates tele-contact investigation (TCI), TB modeling and participatory governance.

Health Futures Foundation, Inc.

Health Futures Foundation, Inc. (HFI), a non-stock, non-profit, non-government organization in the Philippines, won for its project called the “Post-Haiyan Integrated Non-Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Program in Salcedo, Eastern Samar.”

The two-year project aims to reconstruct the health system in Salcedo after super typhoon Haiyan, reduce the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, and to address the Sustainable Development Goal number three of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages.

To achieve the objectives, the project implemented several innovations like a municipality-wide active screening and follow-up, a community-based integrative approach with universal health care coverage, and health access passport cards, among others.

Filipino health workers have been winning awards for their innovations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan and his team of researchers won an award for a rapid, smartphone-based saliva test that could diagnose COVID-19, while University of Santo Tomas (UST) student nurses won the Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge for their Covid-19 anti-misinformation artificial intelligence (AI) pitch.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to the innovators behind the public health innovations from the Philippines that won the first World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Innovation Challenge: Innovation for the Future of Public Health.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.