The app that won the Africa health prize
A young Malian doctor and computer engineer scooped up the Africa health prize. Cheick Oumar Bagayoko’s application Bogou connects doctors in rural areas with medical experts across the world, thus improving diagnosis and knowledge exchange. Doctors working in rural areas are often at a disadvantage, whether due to poor facilities or infrastructure. Bogou gives access to life-saving information that may have otherwise been incredibly difficult or expensive to get. It is a computer application accessed using the Internet.
Bogou means “to help others” in Djerma and Sonhraï, languages spoken in Niger and Mali. It can be used by midwives, nurses, or general doctors to resolve difficult cases. The application has been around for years and is used in the Francophone countries that are part of the Francophone African network for telemedicine (Réseau en Afrique francophone pour la télémédecine, in French). Bogou is also used in Bolivia and in Nepal.
According to Bagayoko, scientific publications have confirmed that more patients go to medical centers that use Bogou because the app gives them a bit of confidence. Bagayoko’s prize came out first, beating 650 others to win a grant of $16,700 (15,000€). That money will likely go towards a mobile version of the app that will allow specialists to be alerted via SMS when they received a new case. Bogou is already available in French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The Africa health prize is largely sponsored by French public radio station Rfi. It was launched last year and is aimed at supporting innovative digital services that improve access to information and health services across Africa. The award drew interest from French-speaking African countries. Outside the grant, the prize is supported by Microsoft, Facebook, Mozilla, and Orange.
The other two finalists for the prize came from Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. Alain Nteff is behind the project Giftedmom, a low-cost mobile app for pregnant women and mothers in rural regions; while Eliphal Balloula Touadi of Fongwama fosters a platform for new ways of thinking around health care and medicine. A special mention was given to Senegalese Mamadou Sall for Karangué, an application which sends automatic reminders to parents based on a vaccination calendar for their children.
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