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Korogocho telemedicine project wins Rolex Award

After his university education Aggrey Otieno returned to Korogocho to save the lives of mothers and babies who lack emergency obstetric care.

Aggrey Willis Otieno has been awarded as the 2012 Rolex Award Laureate in recognition for his innovative Telemedicine initiative being piloted in Korogocho slum, Nairobi, making him the first Kenyan to win the award in it’s 34-year history.

The award comes with prize money of Swiss Francs 100,000 (Sh9.2 million) and a Rolex watch. Aggrey shall also benefit from technical advice of a pool of experts to advance his telemedicine innovation. Aggrey received the award on Tuesday, 27th November in New Delhi, India in a celebration attended by distinguished figures from the field of science, technology and the environment.

“In developed countries, falling pregnant is usually a blessing that is welcomed with joyous celebrations. To women of Korogocho, a congested slum area in Nairobi, falling pregnant is usually a curse condemning many of them to deaths that can be prevented. … I therefore have a dream, a dream that one day we will have zero maternal and neonatal mortality,” says Aggrey, who was born and bred in the sprawling slums.

According to the 2012 Rolex Laureate, too many women – and babies – die from diseases and complications that could be prevented, simply by giving them access to skilled antenatal care and legitimate medical facilities. Aggrey developed an ingenious model to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Korogocho.

The Laureate will built a telemedicine centre where a doctor will be based 24 hours a day to respond to pregnancy-related medical emergencies, giving advice and, when necessary, dispatching a van to transport pregnant women to a hospital.

The centre’s ICT infrastructure will link frontline health workers working in the community with skilled medical attendants based outside Korogocho, facilitating communication between them to track pregnant women, monitor their pregnancies, educate them on maternal and child health and, most importantly, facilitate transportation to health centers for women at high risk of developing complications

“We are honored to be able to support the award of this extra ordinary individual, who have the imagination and dedication to make good things for the benefit of others. We are fortunate to have the generous guidance and experience of experts in every field to work with us to choose from amongst the many outstanding nominees that we received – this year, 3,500 from 154 countries in all, the largest number we have ever received,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy, Rolex.

The Rolex Award for Enterprise were founded in 1976 to recognize and support exceptional individuals with new ideas in the fields of science and health, applied technology, exploration and discovery, the environment, and observation of cultural heritage. Since then, the program has been acclaimed internationally for its pioneering work, and has supported 115 individuals from 42 Countries.

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