The Health Hackathon on Risk Communication: Upcoming Nigerian Edition
We are delighted to have had 111 participants sign up for our four day health hackathon on risk communication starting in Abuja on Monday next week. The people who have signed up are made up of developers, health professionals, media, coders, entrepreneurs and more.
The group will form a number of teams to plan their ideas around what they think would make the most effective technology-driven communications plan should another health pandemic spread to Nigeria.
Platforms and solutions developed may address delays, missed opportunities and even tragedy that can come from poor communication of health information during emergencies and epidemics. The teams may create new software, websites, multimedia platforms or mobile-based tools to address specific needs or they might find new ways to harness communication channels to ensure the effective spread of important and accurate health information.
Of course developers will need to think about the offline functions of any apps due to necessary usage without Wi-Fi in places where data is costly so that is one of the added challenges.
Another is cultural traditions. We know very well that during Ebola certain cultural traditions such as washing loved ones’ bodies was something that lost many lives. Public health officials urgently needed to spread lifesaving information to pause cultural ceremonies, among other things, for the sake of saving millions of people. Competitors will have to take into consideration the differing traditions of people all over Nigeria and beyond.
A third challenge is misinformation and responsibility. Risk communication comes with a very high level of risk. During Ebola entire villages were wiped out in days because of things like announcements on the radio about witches flying over in planes causing the disease. Traditional healers would arrive with the best of intentions and heartbreakingly end up ending their own lives and those of everyone in the village. Healthcare advice must be meticulously scrutinized and confirmed by reputable healthcare providers and no chances can afford to be taken.
It’s vital to quickly find a medium to contact entire countries instantly before habits kick in and lives are lost.
These were challenges that we at Sensi Hub had to deal with when we launched our SMS communications app during Ebola time in Sierra Leone so we know that they can be overcome. Technology can prove the efficiency of healthcare communication so effectively and its efficiency has the power to keep people safe.
With pre-planning you can do things as diverse as audio, visual, video, and user-friendly applications rather than rushed emergency responses when the moment is unexpectedly sprung across the population. This is why this hackathon and its participants are of such importance.
Teamwork will play a huge role in next week’s four day competition. Developers will have to partner up with people in other areas of expertise to ensure that the best quality healthcare is communicated in the most efficient, effective and culturally appropriate ways.
Participants will receive inspiration, guidance, and input from experts from the health and risk communication sectors in the ECOWAS region. They will also receive support from technology professionals and mentors who will be present throughout the four-day event.
Teams will present their prototypes for judging on the final afternoon, competing for a chance to develop their ideas further with support from Sensi Tech Hub from Sierra Leone, Deutsche Gessellschaft fur Internationale Zusammernarbeit (GIZ), GFA Consulting Group and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
We wish all who are coming the very best of luck and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. Don’t forget that the first prize is $2500 for development and help from ourselves and our partners. Second prize is $1500 and third is $1000 to develop ideas.
The event is going to be held at the Civic Innovation Lab, 50 Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Osas & Oseji, Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. http://civicilab.com/
8.30am-4.00pm daily, food and local transportation funds are provided.
Don’t forget to use the hashtags #abujahealthhack and #riskcommunication when Tweeting and Instagramming about the event!
Roll on day 1….