After discussing ideas for the innovation challenge, the team decided to pursue Eduardo Luciano Huapaya’s idea to reduce the number of preventable deaths in West Africa. From his experience in the Peace Corps as a Community Health Facilitator in The Gambia, he was able to identify and develop a potential solution to save lives in the region. While working with local clinics and regional hospitals, he realized that lack of medication has been a huge problem due to lack of transportation. Typically, rural villages would only have 1-2 modes affordable of transportation going in and out of the village. This would cause villagers to spend at least 1-2 days outside of their village because the only bus that goes to their village has already left, which prevents them from working or taking care of the children. We have developed “kanoo” (the Mandinka word for “love”) as a way to alleviate this 1-2 day trip and have them focus on tasks involving the village or their family.
What it does
This is a low data usage and low CPU consumption app that is intended to be used by people living in Africa who find it challenging to get to the nearest hospital/pharmacy to get the medication they need. Hospitals are many times far away from villages in Africa, especially in the poorest countries. Patients will be able to download the app and get live updates of the medications that are getting delivered and when. A local person, “the kanoor”, will be the one that delivers this medication and gets compensated with a percentage of the transaction fee. This app will not only create jobs, but will also facilitate people’s access to medication.
Challenges we ran into
While conducting research about the market and thinking about the logistics of this app, we ran into issues regarding theft and delivery. Although having local delivery workers is convenient, it does require some method of verification so we can ensure that the worker is trustworthy. We addressed this issue by thinking about the way most villages work in Africa. In most villages, there is a local town “leader”, so our idea was to coordinate with this local leader to verify the delivery workers.
In many villages in Africa, there are no addresses. We addressed this issue with the installation of local lockers where people can collect their medication. These lockers would be in a central place of the town.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Our biggest accomplishment about our product is seeing the potential impact it can have on the community. Being able to save preventable deaths and contribute to the villages’ development truly has inspired each team member to contribute and dedicate their time to create an innovative approach to improving patients' health and their communities. We hope to inspire other individuals to always globally and think about those in most need.
What we learned
One of the key takeaways that our team learned was developing a product for a developing country. With the lack of infrastructure, it had created a challenge to develop a product that would be viable in the country. An example is how the team had solved the problem of villages not having addresses or mailboxes like developed countries. Thinking outside the box and developing a user-friendly application for the patient was the ideal way of approaching this innovation challenge.
What's next for Kanoo (potential ideas)
The team wishes that kanoo can be implemented in other developing countries to improve their healthcare system and communities. In the future, funding from NGOs or local governments would cover the transaction fee for the patient, making Kanoo more appealing. In the long run, we hope that the local government's ministry of health or regional hospitals can analyze the medications in a region and initiate public health programs for the villages. And finally, team kanoo believes that bringing this product into communities will help develop the infrastructure in villages. We truly believe that kanoo can make a positive difference in a patient's life.