More than a year in the making – thanks to our dedicated volunteers Don McPhail, Jery Althaf and Aisha Yousuf – the GHTC Young Professionals Project Contest came to life! Our main idea was through this opportunity, to have young professionals from around the world had to work in a team on a solution for a real-life humanitarian problem. And the problem was “Rural District Health Office Data Connectivity and eHealth Record System”
A total of 5 teams entered the final stage and were invited to present their solution to judges at GHTC. While all teams understood very well the technical and financial challenges in establishing good data communications for healthcare professionals, the winning team pointed out “While technical obstacles exist to the successful implementation of this system, public outreach addressing social norms of patient responsibility is paramount to making this project sustainable.” and attempted to address both data connectivity between health centers and patient identification in their solution. The team brought up a key idea that a successful healthcare solution will always require participation of both healthcare practitioners and patients.
At the award ceremony, our guest of honour, Timothy Hsiao, from our sponsor US Agency for International Development (USAID), gave the keynote speech on “Open Source Development and New Opportunities for Humanitarian Technologies.” Timothy found the contest to be a very positive way to get young people involved in addressing real humanitarian issues. For GHTC, the support from USAID is simply a great gift.
Most of us may know very little about what USAID truly does, so Timothy’s presence and presentation really opened our eyes. According to him, going foward, through an open source platform, USAID plans to focus on:
Delivering results on a meaningful scale through a strengthened USAID
Promoting sustainable development through high-impact partnerships
Identifying and scaling up innovative, breakthrough solutions to intractable development challenges
Particularly, the transformative power of science and technology will be used to deliver more effective, cost-efficient results in global development. Indeed money alone cannot solve humanitarian problems. Science and technology have the potential to help create feasible solutions and make the world a better place for everyone.
Overall, the Young Professionals Project Contest is a very successful pilot contest for GHTC 2013. Having Timothy to speak to us was a bonus. We hope this contest has inspired more young people to get involved in developing humanitarian technologies and get a better understanding of humanitarian work implementation.