By Iminza Keboge
Published June 24, 2016
Valentin Agon of Benin has won the 5th edition of the annual Innovation Prize for Africa.
Agon, a medical doctor, was selected overall winner, with Imogen Wright of South Africa scooping Second Prize, and Eddy Agbo of Nigeria winning the Special Prize for Social impact.
Dr Valentin Agon, who walked away with the US$100000 Grand Prize, is the innovator of an anti-malaria drug treatment called Api-Palu. The treatment is already being used in the French-speaking countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Central African Republic.
Made from natural plant extract, Api-Palu is said to be significantly cheaper than anti-malarial drugs currently on the market.
Exatype, a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patientsâ€™ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment, earned South Africa’s Imogen Wright the Second Prize of US$25000.
Exatype is said to be effective in processing the highly complex data produced by advanced â€œnext-generationâ€ DNA sequencing of the HIV DNA in a patientâ€™s blood. It detects drugs that are resistant to the patient, then highlights the need to avoid these to ensure successful treatment.
The Social Impact Prize, worth US$25000, went to a Nigerian doctor, Eddy Agbo, for his Urine Test for Malaria (UMT); it is described as a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.
Kenya’s Amolo Ngâ€™Weno, who chaired the panel of judges, says, â€œThe standards were very high, and it was difficult to make a decision; everyone is a winner and all of them were addressing major social issues. I congratulate the winners and look forward to the next five years of IPA.â€
â€œIPA 2016 marks some historic achievements since its inception in 2011,â€ says Jean Claude Bastos de Morais, AIF Founding Board Member. â€œBesides a huge database of more than 6000 innovators for increased share and exchange of information and a cash investment of US$1 million, we received endorsement from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in support of innovation-led strategies to boost national development.â€
“Innovative healthcare solutions took pole position this year, offering ground-breaking responses to address Africaâ€™s prevailing malaria and HIV/AIDS burdens,” a Press statement from the organisers says.
Some 985 applications are said to have been received for the Innovation Prize for Africa in 2016. Out of these, 10 nominees were selected, and from these three top winners emerged.