A number of African universities have combined forces to establish a promising new platform to promote digital health innovation. The Grace Onyango Foundation for Digital Health in Africa will be launched in Kisumu, Kenya, on 5 and 6 September 2022. The Foundation is reaching out to collaborators, strategic partners and funders of high impact projects in this space.
Digital health innovation in Africa will be given a fresh and exciting boost with the launch of the Grace Onyango Foundation for Digital Health in Africa (www.graceonyangofoundation.org) on 5 and 6 September in Kisumu, Kenya. The Foundation, which is a not-for-profit company registered in Kenya, is named for a 98 year-old regional stalwart, teacher, politician and public servant, Mama Grace Onyango.
“It is a tremendous privilege to lead this Foundation,” explains its jovial chairman, Professor Khama Rogo, himself a retired World Bank health veteran and internationally renowned public health specialist. “Firstly, because it aims to ignite the passion and contributions of our continent’s doctors, scientists and engineers to create solutions for our health systems. Digital health innovations can help the continent leap-frog and fast track universal access, especially to the remote and low resource populations in Africa.”
Prof Rogo smiles. “And secondly, on a personal note, it is meaningful that we can honour the life and public service of such an icon, Mama Grace Onyango, at whose feet I and many other acclaimed professionals learnt to read, write and count. She showed how ordinary people, especially women, can make a big impact in the lives of their communities. As a father of two daughters, it is extra special.”
The Foundation’s founding members include Great Lakes University of Kisumu (also acting as secretariat), Maseno University, Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (all Kenyan); and North-West University, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University and Central University of Technology (all from South Africa). The plan is to onboard institutions from additional countries to create a truly collaborative, pan-African platform and ecosystem.
The launch event in Kisumu is aimed at congregating private and public sector stakeholders to take the initiative forward. “Our first night will be a formal dinner with guests from all over the continent,” explains prof Hazel Mumbo, board member and Vice-Chancellor of Great Lakes University of Kisumu. “And we have several guests from Europe and the US who will attend virtually. It is going to be memorable!”
Her fellow board member, prof Leenta Grobler, is an Associate Professor in Digitisation and Digital Economies at the North-West University Business School, a computer and electronic engineering professional and a renowned inventor in the digital health space. Her passion lies in getting the innovations into clinical practice, and particularly through start up companies. Leenta adds: “So, the second day of the launch programme (6 September) will be a one-day power conference for and about digital health start-ups. We have exciting speakers lined up and want to position the Foundation as the go-to digital hub for start-ups in this space. It will be an ideal opportunity for start-ups to exhibit their solutions, present themselves and learn from industry stakeholders, including funders. I can’t wait!”
Inquiries about the launch can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org cc: email@example.com. The Foundation is keen to build international and regional networks, link with project funders and also to allow more event sponsors to participate.
The Grace Onyango Foundation for Digital Health in Africa is a Pan-African collaborative platform which advances digital health innovation in, and for, Africa. It is registered as a not-for-profit company in Kenya. It promotes African scientists, clinicians and engineers to play a leading role in new innovations and seeks to develop and provide a supportive ecosystem for digital health start-ups on the African continent.