Build solutions for Africa in the COVID-19 crisis
We are rallying the innovation community to develop solutions towards the most pressing issues related to the COVID-19 crisis in Africa. We want to channel and unlock untapped potential into positive and meaningful efforts to rapidly create and implement solutions that truly address the pressing unmet needs and problems of today. Our goal is for teams to design and build local solutions to these now global problems
— Event Kickoff —
— Awards Ceremony —
— Challenge Prompts —
STRENGTHENING THE HEALTH SYSTEM
How can you strengthen the health systems and health facilities that may face staff, supply, and resource shortages?
- Track A. Getting Patient Samples to Labs for Analysis: Across Africa, most COVID-19 testing capabilities exist at central laboratories in major cities. Patient samples for testing are collected in local communities and must then be transported to these centralized labs. Given transportation infrastructure challenges and extremely remote sample collection facilities, how can we make this process more efficient?
- Track B. Strengthening Referral Systems: The most vulnerable populations across Africa live very far from university-level teaching hospitals. People visit the health post closest to their home and rely on staff there to gain access to higher levels of advanced care, as needed. How can we help communities identify where they should go first if they experience symptoms of COVID-19? Especially in countries without national ambulance systems, how can we ensure safe, efficient referral systems in the context of COVID-19? Between public and private facilities? In rural and urban areas?
- Track C. Empowering the Health Workforce: The healthcare workforce across Africa makes heroic efforts each day to address the needs of patients while being woefully underequipped. A global pandemic adds enormous stress to this already understaffed system. How can we ensure that healthcare providers immediately receive the COVID-19 training and education they need? Information about COVID-19 is constantly changing – how can we dynamically keep this training and education current?
- Track D. Readiness for Potential Surges: As COVID-19 grows exponentially in certain communities or countries, approaches to increase the capacity of healthcare systems are necessary. To date, countries around the world have repurposed locations not normally used for isolation and treatment to address surges in infections. These include conference venues and open field hospitals. What solutions are needed to ensure readiness in African countries during surge periods?
- Track E. Sustaining Primary Care During COVID-19: Previous epidemics, like Ebola, have had a devastating impact on health outcomes – beyond the virus itselfbroad health indicators across the continent. , as Fearing infection, people avoid fear entering the health accessing care system even for routine needscare. How can we ensure that we maintain the progress we’ve made by enabling ongoing access to safe spaces for health services, including maternal care, childbirth, and routine immunization, amongst others services?
- Track F. Energizing Healthcare: Medical centers cannot operate without proper access to electricity. We need to find flexible, scalable and sustainable solutions to power medical facilities across African countries. If a patient comes to a facility at any hour of the day for COVID-19 care, a clinician should be able to treat them. How do we keep the lights on at these facilities?
PROTECTING VULNERABLE POPULATIONS
42% of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 per day. How can vulnerable populations protect themselves from the effects of COVID-19?
- Track G. Preventing Community Transmission: The most vulnerable populations across the continent live in spaces where physical (or social) distancing is not possible – in crowded multi-generational homes, dense communities, or refugee settlements. These people often also do not have regular access to clean water, proper sanitation, or healthcare. How can they protect themselves and their families during each stage of an outbreak?
- Track H. Enabling Work and Supporting Livelihoods: Within communities that survive on daily wages, a complete economic shutdown is an immediate threat to their lives. Given that such communities do not have robust social protections, and run the risk of low access to food and basic amenities, how can we enable people to safely maintain parts of commerce essential to their survival? How do we address the informal sector?
- Track I. Production of Essential Supplies: As demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand sanitizer and other essential medical supplies increases across the continent, how can we safely transition local, available manufacturing capacity to meet some of these needs, rather than import everything? Meanwhile, as demand for certain consumer goods decreases, how can we repurpose supply chains and factories to produce these essential supplies?
- Track J. Combating Misinformation: Misinformation on the causes and management of COVID-19 abound globally. Some people have come to think that the disease is altogether not real, threatening necessary preparedness AND response mechanisms. What solutions can be deployed to get people the helpful accurate information they need? Historical and current day injustices give some people reason to doubt government and international efforts, threatening necessary preparedness AND response mechanisms.
— Agenda —
Friday, May 1, 2020
Event kickoff and team formation @ 1PM EST
Saturday, May 2, 2020
Teams hone down on the problems, generate solutions, including proof of concepts, prototypes, and preliminary vision for execution
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Teams submit final presentation
Winners announced + next steps
— KEYNOTE SPEAKERS —
— Frequently Asked Questions —
WHAT IS THE AFRICA TAKES ON COVID-19 CHALLENGE?
The Africa Takes on COVID-19 Challenge event is the third in a series of virtual hackathons. Over the course of two days, multi-disciplinary teams will collaborate to develop innovative solutions that can help address the COVID-19 crisis. We are focused on connecting teams with the tools and resources needed to develop mature solutions that can be implemented by our partners. After the Challenge, selected teams will have the opportunity to bring their solutions to life with the support of our partners.
The next event is May 1-3, 2020. In this 48-hour virtual event, we will help tackle the most critical unmet needs caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa.
WHERE IS THE CHALLENGE TAKING PLACE?
This is a virtual event. Teams will work together throughout the two-day event using tools such as Zoom, Google Drive, WhatsApp, and/or Slack.
WHEN WILL THE CHALLENGE TAKE PLACE?
The virtual challenge will take place Friday, May 1st through Sunday, May 3rd.
HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO COMMIT?
The Challenge is a 48-hour sprint beginning on Friday afternoon (5/1) and ending on Sunday afternoon (5/3). Since the goal is to rapidly bring meaningful solutions to life, participants should expect to commit Friday evening, most of Saturday, and Sunday morning/early afternoon to the Challenge. Participants do not need to be available 24/7 for the duration of the event but should communicate their availability to team members.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE WEEKEND?
After the weekend, the best ideas and teams will have the opportunity to co-develop and implement their solution with the support of our partners.
WHAT DO WINNING TEAMS GET?
Winning teams will receive computing resources, organizational support and direct access to key partners to further develop, validate and implement solutions developed.
WHO OWNS THE PRODUCT/SOLUTIONS TEAMS CREATE?
In an effort to expedite the development and implementation of solutions developed in this event, all products and solutions developed in this event will be subject to the terms below:
The following terms apply to participation in this hackathon (“Hackathon”). Entrants may create original solutions, prototypes, datasets, scripts, or other content, materials, discoveries or inventions (a “Submission”). The Hackathon is organized by the MIT COVID19 Challenge: Africa Takes on COVID-19 organizing team.
Entrants retain ownership of all intellectual and industrial property rights (including moral rights) in and to Submissions.
As a condition of submission, Entrant grants the Hackathon Organizer, its subsidiaries, agents and partner companies, without restrictions, a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, create a derivative work from, and publicly display the Submission.
Entrants provide Submissions on an “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
Entrant represents and warrants that, to the best of his or her knowledge, any work product is Entrant’s own original work and is not within the intellectual property rights of any third party, including any former or current employers. If you are unsure, you should consult any former or current employment agreement to which you are a party. Under no circumstances will Hackathon Organizer be liable to you or any third party for any damages, direct or otherwise, arising out of use of this hackathon work product.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE?
We are seeking a diverse group of participants. Participants ages 13+ of all experience levels, professional and academic backgrounds, and skill sets are welcome; what matters most is your commitment to making an impact and your willingness to collaborate.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE A TECHNICAL OR CLINICAL BACKGROUND TO PARTICIPATE?
No! Participants of all academic and professional backgrounds are welcome! Technical or medical experience is always helpful, but it is not required.
DO I HAVE TO BE AN MIT STUDENT OR MIT AFFILIATED TO PARTICIPATE?
No! Participants do not need to be affiliated with MIT, just need to be eager to take on COVID-19! As above, technical or medical experience is always helpful, but it is not required.
WILL THE EVENT BE HELD IN ENGLISH?
Yes, the event, along with the final presentations, will be held fully in English.
HOW DO I APPLY?
Please complete the application form found here.
Applications are due by April 28th at 11:59PM EST. If you are applying with a team, all team members must submit individual applications.
HOW ARE APPLICATIONS EVALUATED?
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Emphasis will be placed on ensuring a diversity of skill sets and demographics are represented among participants. You will receive an email from the Africa Takes on COVID-19 Challenge team by April 29th at 11:59pm EST with an update regarding your acceptance.
HOW ARE TEAMS FORMED?
Participants will work together in teams of 2-7 members. We strongly recommend teams to have 5-7 members. If you already have a team in mind, you can indicate who you would like to work with when completing the participant application form (all team members must submit an individual application and we cannot guarantee that every team member will be accepted to the event). Individuals are also invited to participate; we will form teams based on interest and experience.
DO I NEED TO COME WITH AN IDEA?
The Challenge is focused on solving some of the most pressing problems that are resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Participants are encouraged to come with these problems in mind, but you don’t need to have an answer in hand. You’ll work with teams to develop solutions that will have a meaningful impact on the COVID-19 crisis.
WHAT TOOLS/RESOURCES WILL BE PROVIDED?
Teams will be connected with technical resources, data sets, developer platforms and experienced mentors throughout the weekend to help them create, iterate, build, and develop solutions as quickly as possible.
WILL YOU BE PROVIDING CERTIFICATES TO PARTICIPANTS?
Unfortunately, the organizing team cannot provide certificates to participants.
HOW DO I BECOME A MENTOR?
Please complete the application form found here.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF MENTORS?
Mentors will work with teams based on their experience and expertise. Mentors do not need to be available for the entire weekend. Once mentors have been accepted, they will select a 2-3 hour shift at a time that best accommodates their schedule.
HOW DOES MY ORGANIZATION/ COMPANY BECOME A PARTNER?
Thank you for your interest! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of the organizing team will contact you to determine how your organization’s expertise, resources, and reach can be most effectively utilized as part of this effort.
WHAT IF I HAVE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED?
If you have additional questions or press inquiries, please email: email@example.com.