13 September, Abuja – The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in partnership with EpiAFRIC, Reboot and Nigeria Health Watch today announced an open call for submissions to the #Hack4COVIDWaste, a hackathon designed to develop solutions that will combat the issue of poor management and disposal of COVID-19 waste. The hackathon will be a hybrid in person-virtual event and will take place at Ventures Park in Abuja from October 15- 16 2021. Technology enthusiasts focused on social impact innovation are encouraged to apply online by 24 September 2021 using the application portal.
Health facilities and COVID-19 centers in Nigeria are facing immense challenges in the disposal of infected masks, gloves, and other protective equipment as well as vaccine related supplies. These facilities often have protocols for the safe disposal of biomedical waste, however the poor handling of this waste poses as a hazard for health workers, patients, visitors, and communities around health facilities.
The #Hack4COVIDWaste hackathon will address the issue of COVID-19 biomedical waste management aiming to create a platform for health workers to collaborate with developers, business people and technology practitioners to develop viable solutions that will contribute to sustainable COVID-19 waste management in Nigeria.
All submissions will be reviewed, and shortlisted teams will be invited to participate in the hackathon. The selected teams will be asked to take their ideas through a design thinking process and pitching sessions followed by mentorship by industry experts to refine their ideas in separate breakout rooms. After the first day, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their COVID-19 waste management solution to a panel of judges with the potential of making it through to the second day of the hackathon. Finalists will then pitch their refined idea to a panel of judges.
According to William Tsuma, Crisis Prevention & Recovery Advisor UNDP, proper disposal of COVID-19 waste is essential and needs to be addressed urgently. “Mismanagement of COVID-19 related waste can cause unforeseen knock-off effects on both human health and the environment. At the UNDP, we are pleased to support the #Hack4COVIDWaste to enable the development of homegrown innovative solutions, as the safe handling and disposal of waste is a vital element in an effective emergency response”.
Speaking about the hackathon, Dr. Ifeanyi Nsofor, CEO EpiAFRIC stated that the partnership came at an appropriate time, particularly with the increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients and the recent arrival of vaccines. “It is of a great concern to see the growing amount of waste generated from COVID-19 response measures, such as used facemasks on the streets and syringes/needles improperly disposed in health centers. Therefore, this timely intervention, that will leverage existing talent in the innovation community here in Nigeria, will go a long way in helping to solve the management of COVID-19 wastes”.
In addition, shortlisted participants will benefit from mentoring, training, networking, and other support to move their solutions from ideas to workable solutions.
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