JKUAT gains from mega Bill Gates funding for healthcare research

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Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has won the Grand Challenges Explorations grant, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to foster groundbreaking research in global health and development.

Dr. Agnes Mindila, a Lecturer, and ICT for Development researcher at the Department of Computing and COD at the Department of Information Technology will pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled Blockchain Technology-Based Computer Application for Vaccine Supply Chain Management. The project is one of the 51 Grand Challenges Explorations Round 19 grants announced November 14, 2017.
To receive funding Dr. Mindila and other Grand Challenges Explorations winners demonstrated in a two-page online application a bold idea in one of four critical global health and development topic areas.

The application based on blockchain technology is envisioned to monitor the supply chains delivering vaccines from the producers to the health workers; to ensure quality and availability when needed. The technology which involves digitally storing information in blocks that are shared across a network of computers can be continually updated. The application will also ensure that everyone in the supply chain can access and record information about a specific vaccine to avoid dispensing expired ones.

Besides ascertaining the quality and safety of the vaccines in the supply chain, Dr. Mindila opined the initiative will also enhance transparency and traceability in the distribution and use of the essential commodities in Kenya.

In Low Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) information about demand, stock-levels and timely use of vaccines are poorly kept affecting timely supply leading to expirees and stock-outs of the needed vaccine.

Existing systems are not able to keep pace with the changing landscape of national immunization programmes. In addition, counterfeiting leads to lowers returns in health outcomes for those investing in the research, production, procurement, and delivery of vaccines; threatening the dependability of future funding sources from both governments and partners.

In November 2017, Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board destroyed 65,000 kilograms of unused and expired drugs. Cases of expired drugs being administered to patients in government and private hospitals have also been on the rise in the country.

Dr. Agnes Mindila holds a BSc. Electrical and Electronics Engineering (JKUAT), MSc. Management of Information Technology (University of Sunderland, UK) and Ph.D. Information Technology (JKUAT). Besides the innovative global health and development research project, Dr. Mindila and her research team are working on Wireless Sensor Networks for Environmental safety Monitoring and Integrated Geofenced Blood Donation System for disaster management. All these innovation Projects are making great contributions towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) supports innovative thinkers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Launched in 2008, over 1365 projects in more than 65 countries have received Grand Challenges Explorations grants. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization.

 

This article was first posted on the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology website.

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