Saturday September 18, 2021

‘Innovative solutions can help curb Hepatitis C in Pakistan’

Islamabad : The National Hepatitis C Hackathon, organised by Teamup, Sensus Dx, and Ferozsons Laboratories Limited at the National Incubation Center (NIC) in Islamabad- Pakistan’s leading incubator, managed by Teamup in partnership with Jazz and Ignite has successfully concluded.

The 2-day online event was held on the 27th and 28th of July, in partnership with the Corporate Coalition for Viral Hepatitis Elimination (cchep.org) and sponsored by CCHEP member companies Abbott, PepsiCo, Nestle, and Ferozsons, to find innovative solutions to curb the spread of viral hepatitis in Pakistan.

Pakistan has the second-highest HCV prevalence in the world. Approximately 11 million people are living with Hep C in the country. On average 64 deaths occur daily due to the disease in Pakistan. While the disease is highly curable in most cases, lack of awareness and late diagnosis contribute to the high transmission and death rates in the country.

A total of 340 applications from 60 plus cities in three continents were received from SMEs, startups, and medical experts under thematic areas of prevention, detection, and management. 18 applications were shortlisted for pitching in the hackathon, out of which the top six were shortlisted for the finale.

The chief guest for the event-Dr. Faisal Sultan-SAPM for Health, sharing his views on the occasion said the challenge of the Viral Hepatitis epidemic is one that the Government is committed to meeting through the Prime Minister’s Programme for Viral Hepatitis, which we are launching through our own resources despite the burden placed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The scale of this challenge will require the full participation of our citizens and the private sector,” he added.

He added that he was encouraged by the formation of the Corporate Coalition for Hepatitis Elimination in Pakistan, and congratulated more than 300 entrants of today’s Hackathon for their spirit and innovative proposals. “I am extremely hopeful that with the support of these young innovators, we can eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat in Pakistan.”

Dr. Nausheen Hamid- Parliamentary Secretary for MNHSRC who graced the occasion as the Guest of Honor said Hepatitis C in particular is a critical healthcare problem in Pakistan, with prevalence at persistently high levels.

Cash prizes were awarded to the top three participants. First Prize (PKR 500,000) was given to Slosh AI: A Super App, building an AI-based ecosystem for creating health solutions, second prize (PKR 300,000) was awarded to Nano-detectors: Using nano-particles based detection methods for effective diagnosis and monitoring of a viral infection and the third prize (PKR 200,000) was given to Screen Pakistan: Developing a low-cost paper-based strip test for early Hep C detection.

The winners, in addition to the cash prizes, will have the opportunity to connect with relevant stakeholders required to practically implement their ideas including investors, Public Sector representatives and mentors/domain experts. They will also get the opportunity to scale up with the support of donors and acceleration partners.