Liberian scientist and medical doctor Dougbeh Chris Nyan has won the prestigious Innovation Prize for Africa Award for Social Impact, according to a press release. Dr. Nyan won the award for his invention of a medical test that can detect and identify many infections in less than one hour using one test.
According to experts, ‘the Nyan-test’ is easy to use and less expensive. It will cut down the long waiting time for test results and will serve remote communities in Africa and the world.
In many African countries, most healthcare facilities in cities and remote areas have limited access to high-tech diagnostic tools, thereby making it difficult to provide services that detect and differentiate infections that show the same symptoms when for example a patient has malaria, typhus, yellow fever, or Ebola.
However, Dr. Nyan’s single-test is able to pinpoint the infections or rule out others in less than an hour, making it faster and easier for doctors to give specific treatments at affordable costs.
The African Innovation Prize (IPA), which mirrors the Nobel Prize, is an award organized six years ago by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF), a Swiss-based foundation founded by the philanthropist-entrepreneur Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais. This year (2017), the AIF saw over 2,500 applicants from across the African continent and from which judges selected 10 finalists that met in Accra, Ghana for the final innovation showdown.
Accepting the African Innovation Price Special Award for Social Impact, Dr. Nyan thanked the African Innovation Foundation for recognizing and supporting innovators on the African continent and asked African governments to commit enough financial resources to support African innovators. Dr. Nyan said, “just as African leaders gather to send military forces to solve political conflicts, so too should African governments come together and support African innovators who are fighting a war by using science and technology to improve the health and well-being of Africa and the world.”
The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, who addressed the award ceremony, has committed one percent of his country’s GDP to support science, technology, engineering and math programs in Ghana.
Asked what is next for his project, Dr. Nyan said, “We are looking forward to our field trials and seeking investment partnerships that will lead to the production of our diagnostic test.” Dr. Nyan won a prize money of $25,000 for the “Special Social Impact” of his innovation. Two other prize winners were Philippa Makobore of Uganda, who took second place with a $25,000 purse, and Aly El-Shafei of Egypt, who won the grand prize of $100,000.
The other seven finalists each get a $5,000 participation voucher. Aly El-Shafei developed the “Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing” which improves the efficiency of energy generating turbines and can reduce the costs of generating energy in Africa. Philippa Makobore’s invention is the “Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set” which delivers infusion in pediatric patients with high accuracy.
In closing comments, Dr. Nyan said, “I would like to congratulate my fellow innovators and contestants as from a pan-Africanist and humanitarian perspective, I see that Africa and the world are the winners.”