By Chimwemwe Gondwe
The Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) on May 26,showcased e-Health innovations developed by its students to various industry partners at an event held in Blantyre.
The stakeholders comprised officials from Ministry of Health, insurance companies and many more, who came to appreciate the students’ e-solutions that seek to improve efficiency and effectiveness in health service delivery by bringing quality.
The University, through the MUST Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation (MIIRI) is supporting students to nurture their innovations in readiness for commercialization, mass production and marketing.
On the day, a group of 10 students presented four e-Health innovations, namely Virtual Hospital, Disease Tracking System, Smart BP machine (Hypertension monitoring device) and E-health Passport.
In her speech, MUST Vice-Chancellor, Professor Address Malata, described the innovations as game changers because they have potential to promote efficiency and improve quality in the way health services are offered in Malawi.
“Healthy workers fail in this country and all over the world because individuals working in the health sector are few. This results in the workers being overworked and overwhelmed, and what we are doing today is a step towards an improved health care in this nation,” she said.
Professor Malata also explained that as a country, Malawi needs to embrace the students’ ideas because they offer technological solutions to the ever changing health care delivery landscape in Malawi.
“There are many innovations in this country that have died, young people come up with innovations and no one does anything about it and in the end these young people are frustrated,” she said.
She further urged the private sector to invest in such innovations, saying as an institution, MUST has limited financial capacity and mandate.
“The students too, they can only come up with the innovations but for them to benefit Malawians and help solve existing challenges in our communities, commercialization is needed. This requires heavy investments,” she said.
Director of Technical Services at Ministry of Health, Dr Godfrey Kadewere was impressed by the innovations as they are in line with the Ministry’s plans to digitalize services, especially in light of the universal health coverage agenda.
“Malawi has a lot of health problems and digitalization is the way to go to solve some of the challenges we are currently facing and the Ministry fully supports MUST and its students in this development. We encourage many partners to support us in this journey,” he said.
One of the partners who has supported the innovations and is also working with Ministry of Health in digitalizing services, is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Apart from appreciating the innovations, guests also gave suggestions for improvement and areas that need further consideration, especially on research and accompanying legislation.
MUST is creating innovation incubation facilities that will support students, faculty, industry players, community members and students in primary and secondary schools to nurture viable innovative ideas.