Reducing blood bank costs and preventing mothers dying needlessly - health solutions top the list in the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa award

Nigeria’s first online and mobile blood bank is revolutionising the country’s blood supply system and has made it to the finals of the AbilityNet Tech4Good awards.

The Haima Health Initiative bloodbank platform connects voluntary blood donors with patients, using real-time data and GPS.

“With a population of over 170 million, Nigeria needs an estimated 1.4 to 1.7 million pints of blood per annum, but only about 38% of this demand is met,” says Chiedozie Nwafor, from Haima Health Initiative.

Without a centralised virtual blood bank, people who need blood transfusions are dying. In Nigeria one pint of blood can cost more than the Nigerian monthly minimum wage (20-000 Naira or $50).

So far, more than 100 volunteers across five states in Nigeria have been trained to use the system and encourage sign-ups.

More than a million new South African moms get vital text support

Also making it to the final in the Comic Relief Tech4Good for Africa Award is the MomConnect online and text messaging service for pregnant women and new mothers to receive vital medical advice. 

More than 1.3 million South African mothers are currently registered on the platform so far. 

Despite having one of the best economies on the continent, South Africa still sees a disproportionately high-level of maternal and infant mortality. To try and tackle this, the National Department of Health (NDOH) in South Africa wanted to develop a mobile platform to provide support.

It is now working with an organisation called to offer MomConnect, which gives every pregnant woman in the country the chance to receive free, informative, stage-based messaging from conception to the end of the first year of her baby’s life.

Launched in 2014, it has so far sent out over 54 million messages of support and advice to millions of women, with 95% of clinics in the country signed up to the service. More than half a million messages have been sent to the MomConnect helpdesk by women seeking knowledge.

A new additional service called NurseConnect supports MomConnect by providing clinical and psychosocial support to 17,000 nurses on the front-line.

Challenging corruption and promoting maths learning in Africa

Joining the two health initiatives in the category are Integrity Action, challenging corruption in the Congo, and Green Shots, promoting maths learning and education.

Integrity Action in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has created an app called DevelopmentCheck to breakthrough the fact that public services and development projects sometimes suffer because of issues including corruption.

“These failures may be caused by corruption, fraud, incompetence, or a lack of oversight. Whatever the cause, the real result is that communities do not benefit from the services and infrastructure that were planned for, budgeted and committed to,” says Bethan Turner at Integrity Action.

“If we reduce this failure rate, it dramatically reduces waste in public resources and it would be the equivalent of channeling billions of additional funds into development around the world.”

Two thousand community monitors challenge corruption and incompetence in the Congo

So far DevelopmentCheck has trained nearly 2000 community monitors. In turn, they have monitored 611 projects, to the value of $868,843 and benefited over 587,211 citizen.

Completing the finalist list is Green Shoots, dedicated to supporting primary schools to deliver quality education, especially in maths. In January 2016, it started its Integrated Maths Programme, funded by Comic Relief UK . The aim of this project is to implement Technology Assisted Learning which improves the quality of maths education.

“One rural school - whose learners mainly come from farms, had a 5.4 % pass rate in 2013. By 2016 that had increased to 41.3% with the programme.

The programme uses technology to analyse data and to provide credible, real-time, on-going feedback from the class-room. Using the programme, teachers are able to spot and address the best way of dealing with major learning barriers and teaching blockages.