KUHeS Participates at the Launch program for Grand Challenges Malawi

Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) recently participated in the launch program for Grand Challenges Malawi at Bingu International Convention Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe. The launch program was organized by the National Commission for Science and Technology Malawi (NCST) in partnership with national stakeholders, Science for Africa Foundation (SFA) and AUDA-NEPAD. The launch was under the theme “Unlocking strategic investments through collaborative research.” The aim of the program is to support the most creative scientists in Malawi to collaborate with their partners in Africa and globally, to implement research that fosters innovation in solving the most critical development challenges in Malawi and Africa.

The Minister of Education, Hon. Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima, who honored the event with her presence, articulated that the nation anticipates significant advancements in research and innovation. These advancements are poised to address the country’s pressing needs and contribute to Malawi’s journey towards achieving the envisioned status of a middle-income economy by 2063, as outlined in the Malawi 2063 agenda. She further emphasized the unwavering commitment of her Ministry and the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) to provide comprehensive support to all researchers and innovators.

“Malawi aspires to transition into a knowledge-based economy, and the recently inaugurated Grand Challenges will play a pivotal role in realizing this vision.” Said Wirima.

During the launch, KUHeS showcased some of its innovations which were:

  1. Ezecheck Anaemia Screening Device, a non-invasive portable device that can instantly predict the hemoglobin concentration in the human body using the spectrophotometry technique and a mobile application. Users press their thumbs against the device, and a light is reflected onto their skin to detect the concentration of hemoglobin. The results are then displayed through an app.
  2. The Mawi pad device, a non-invasive and inexpensive tool used to monitor heart rate, rhythm, ana potential abnormalities in electrical activity that may indicate heart disease in children under seven. Equipped with a PPG sensor, it uses a light source and a protodetector at the surface of skin to measure the volumetric variations of blood circulation. The PG signal is then sent to an application that processes the data and provides the results.
  3. Proximity Sensors which are RFID tags that are equipped with bi-directional radio intertaces. These tags emit low-power radio packets at different power levels enabling then distance between individuals wearing them and identify the patterns of human social interactions. This provides critical information about contact in communities and related social behaviors linked to health and development outcomes.

In the closing remarks, Vice-Chair for the NSCT board and Director of Research Support Centre at KUHeS, Dr. Cecilia Maliwichi-Nyirenda, expressed gratitude and outlined plans for the commission. She thanked the Minister for putting issues of National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) as a priority and attending the launch all day and expressed how the support from the government will give them more boost to continue with their work.

“As a commission we are so excited because this is what we have been aspiring to achieve. Going forward we will also be dealing with any emerging issues that will present themselves such as climate issues because we know that these have had an effect on Malawi on Research and Innovation.” Said Maliwichi.

Grand Challenges was established in 2003 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to fund ground-breaking scientific research on specific unique health challenges in a country using bold mind ideas and innovative solutions. Several African countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Senegal and Botswana have launched Grand Challenges initiatives. Science for Africa Foundation (SFA) based in Nairobi coordinates national Grand Challenges in Africa to develop innovations on the African continent. Malawi has now is joined a growing global network to leverage efforts from members of the global Grand Challenges family to support research and innovation. This will broaden collaborations and mutual R&D funding for groundbreaking innovative research projects.