The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and PATH, an international non-profit organisation, have joined forces to launch the new South African-based Global Health Innovation Accelerator (GHIA).

The new health innovation partnership intends to develop sustainable high-impact health technologies and introduce them to South Africa’s public health system.

According to GHIA, it will attempt to connect the scientific and technical expertise, funding, and networks of global partners with local scientists and innovators to accelerate product development and introduction. The partnership will initially focus on the development of devices and diagnostics to improve maternal, neonatal and child health.

“We are excited by the prospects that the partnership between the SAMRC and PATH will bring to the South African health research and innovation landscape, particularly in relation to maternal and child health,” said Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara.

“We are confident that the GHIA would enable us to tap into PATH’s extensive experience in managing the challenges that prevent technologies from reaching global markets, and thus enable health innovations to reach people who need them the most, especially women and children,” added Dr Mjwara.

President of the SAMRC, Glenda Gray, noted that: “We desperately need to find innovative solutions that will save the lives of women during pregnancy and childbirth. Interventions that prevent unnecessary stillbirths and neonatal deaths are critical as we endeavour to drive down mortality in children in Africa.”

“The SAMRC is deeply committed to this bold step to help find medical solutions that are game-changing. This partnership demonstrates our commitment to finding new ways of solving old problems,” added Gray.

PATH’s vice president of International Development, Dr. Ayo Ajayi, said that what makes the GHIA unique is its “focus on strengthening home-grown innovation—whether from South Africa or elsewhere—to quickly bring new products to market. It combines South Africa’s innovation, expertise, and research capacity with PATH’s nearly 40 years of experience in breaking through barriers that can prevent lifesaving technologies from reaching those who need them.”

Some of GHIA’s new solutions targeted at public healthcare facilities include mTriage, a mobile app developed by TOMPSA. The free smartphone app helps nurses ensure emergency patients are quickly screened and prioritised according to their medical conditions. The mTriage solution has already been implemented with great success at the Khayelitsha District Hospital with the support of the Western Cape Department of Health.

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