Five Nigerian teenagers recently won first place in the junior division of the Technovation World Pitch Summit held in San Jose, California with an app that has the potential to save thousands of lives. The euphoria of such great feat has kept the Nigerian government dancing and gloating about their commitment to education, but the real questions to ask would be, what happens next? How do we put this invention to work? What steps can we take to horn these amazing talents, while encouraging others to follow the path of creativity.
I really admire what these young girls have achieved, also taking into consideration where they are coming from and the reputation of Technovation.
Iridescent’s 2018 Technovation World Pitch Summit is the world’s largest tech entrepreneurship program for girls. The program invites girls from ages ten to eighteen from all over the world to identify a problem in their community and then challenges the girls to solve it.
Team Save-a-Soul was selected from 2,000 mobile app developers to represent Africa at the pitch competition. Their winning mobile app, FD Detector (Fake Drug Detector), tackles the problem of counterfeit pharmaceutical products in Nigeria. This team won ahead of rivals from the US, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan and China.
We need to understand that Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has struggled for years to close in on a rampant fake drug market. Though the exact number of counterfeit drugs is contested, many malaria deaths in Nigeria are have been linked to the use fake medicines. African countries are the dumping ground for 40% of the world’s recorded counterfeit drugs, so it would not be out of place to say that Team Save-a-Soul’ app addresses a real life and death issue in Nigeria.
Report has it that the girls plan to partner with NAFDAC to create a database of certified pharmaceutical products. Once authorized by the agency, a pharmaceutical company can upload its drugs onto the platform and be admitted to the database. Consequently, anyone with a smartphone camera, both health professionals and consumers, can scan the barcode of a drug and the app will let then them know if the drug is real or fake and display its expiration date. The app also allows users to report cases of fake drugs directly to NAFDAC.
We will keep celebrating this team of five girls from Regina Pacies Secondary School Onitsha, Anambra State: Promise Nnalue, Jessica Osita, Nwabuka Ossai, Adaeze Onuigbo and Vivian Okoye and their Mentor Uchenna Onwuamaegbu Ugwu a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow and founder of Edufun Technik STEM Center for making Africa proud and representing what the future holds for Edu-Tech.