Lab of tomorrow #11: Tackling NCDs in Ghana


When representatives from companies all over the world get together to ideate solutions for a specific development challenge, then that is a lab of tomorrow Innovation Sprint. This happened again between the 1st and 12th of March 2021 – but something was different this time.

The 11th lab of tomorrow Innovation Sprint took place completely virtually and without any of the participants meeting in person. Just like the implementation of the Innovation Sprint was a reaction to the constraints caused by the pandemic, Covid-19 also had an influence on the 11th lab of tomorrow process’ topic: Tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Ghana. NCDs account for 43% of all deaths in Ghana and their prevention is an urgent challenge now more than ever because people living with NCDs are highly vulnerable to COVID-19. On this account, Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo called attention to the topic in April 2020:

"We must pay increased attention to chronic, noncommunicable diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, and asthma, which have proved to be the common risk factors."

In the 11th lab of tomorrow Innovation Sprint, people from all over the world came together to ideate, design and test business prototypes that deal with the challenge of NCDs in Ghana. Even though conducting the Innovation Sprint as an in-person event would have been the ideal alternative to get to know each other and work together, the online version quickly evolved into a successful format as well. Just like in the on-person events, the participants developed a great community spirit over the course of the two-weeks Sprint and worked together efficiently.

The 36 participants were international entrepreneurs as well as representatives from 30 European and Ghanaian companies. In 6 interdisciplinary teams they took on different areas of the challenge “How might we prevent and control NCDs in Ghana in order to relieve the Ghanaian health care system?” and developed six promising business ideas. During this process they were guided by Coaches from Design Thinking Ghana Hub who facilitated the teams’ working process and provided a range of online tools for them to use.

 

The prototypes

Starting off with insights provided by experts like the NCD Alliance or the Ghana Health Service, the teams combined their expertise and went from went from brainstorming ideas to pitching business model sketches in front of mentors and potential investors in only two weeks. During this time, they worked enthusiastically on understanding user needs, conducting interviews with potential users, testing and adjusting their prototypes and developing a deployment plan for their businesses.

Subchallenge 1: provision of affordable and effective drugs

The team working on subchallenge 1 presented the model of an online platform through which pharmacies in Ghana can easily purchase the medication their customers need and have it at hand right in time.

Subchallenge 2: accessible testing and monitoring systems

Two of the teams developed ideas to tackle subchallenge 2. Both of these business models aim at providing NCD patients with the necessary technology to be monitored without having to visit a doctor in person.

Subchallenge 3: connect health facilities for continuous treatment

According to the two teams working on this subchallenge, online platforms are the solution here. Both teams presented prototypes of platforms that connect patients, doctors, nurses, labs, pharmacies and insurances in different ways.

Subchallenge 4: NCD prevention through healthy lifestyle promotion

Gamification is the keyword when it comes to subchallenge 4. By developing a food delivery application that also includes information and quizzes on NCDs, the team working on this challenge wants to promote a healthy lifestyle and spread relevant knowledge.  

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