BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for June, 2021

Admitting that COVID-19 positively impacted anything at all seems like a vile and insensitive thing to do. The pandemic, which took the world by surprise, claimed many lives and caused havoc around the world. However, the story is incomplete without highlighting all the effects and consequences of the pandemic- both negative and not so negative. On that note,  following months of its onset in December 2019, COVID-19 crisis brought about several years of change in ways companies conduct businesses. According to a new study survey of some top executives in different companies, many companies confirmed they have sped up the digitization of their internal operations as well as customer and supply-chain interactions by three to four years. Additionally, the share of digital products in the portfolios of surveyed companies has also sped up by an unbelievable seven years. Nearly all participants of this survey confirmed that their companies have met new demands much more quickly than they ever thought possible before the onset of COVID-19.

It is important to note that most of these changes in structure, technology and responses in general are here to stay, and will not just end with COVID, given that participants agreed their companies have become more productive and are already investing to ensure permanence. In fact, when these participants were asked about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on different measures, they agreed that funding for digital initiatives specifically has increased tremendously.

During the pandemic, consumers migrated drastically towards online platforms and companies responded accordingly. The survey results further confirm the rapid shift toward interacting with customers through digital channels due to COVID. They also show that rates of adoption are much more advanced compared to the rates when previous surveys were conducted. Participants were three times more likely to agree that most of their customer interactions are digital in nature, compared to before COVID-19.The impacts of COVID-19 have been very significant on the digital and technology sector. These impacts have resulted in various consequences, some of which  include: affecting supply of raw materials, disrupting electronics value chain and increasing inflationary risk on products for many companies. More so, COVID-19 has enabled the acceptance and acceleration of remote working, and shifted focus towards evaluating and de-risking the procurement of materials from suppliers to customers in technical businesses related to Hardware/software, IT services and Semiconductors.

Technological advancements and digitizations are established markers of development due to the progress and economic growth they facilitate. Covid-19, though a difficult challenge, sped up these markers especially because they were essential in fighting the pandemic. In May 2020, WHO and partners launched the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) which  aimed to facilitate timely, equitable and affordable access to health products by encouraging and promoting supply. C-TAP provides a global one-stop shop for developers of COVID-19 therapeutics, diagnostics, vaccines and other health products. The platform enables sharing of intellectual property, knowledge, and data, with quality-assured manufacturers through public health-driven and transparent licenses. By sharing intellectual property and know-how through the pooling and these voluntary agreements, these developers can facilitate scale up production through multiple manufacturers.

The role and impact of technology in today’s world cannot be ignored or overstated. As a result, COVID-19 pandemic was significantly influenced by technology and in turn, the pandemic inspired some new technologies that helped control it. According to World Health Organization(WHO), COVID-19 pandemic undeniably spurred the development of over one hundred (100) health innovations and some of these innovations have been subsequently endorsed and adopted in Africa.

The aim of these innovations developed around the world was to target different areas of the COVID-19 response as well as use the insight and application of technology in the combat of the pandemic. The geographical distribution of the  technologies may be worthy to evaluate. A detailed study of these innovative technologies shows that about 12.8% were developed in Africa. Of these, 57.8% were related to Information and Communications Technology, 25% were based on 3D printing and 10.9% were robotics. ICT innovations were majorly WhatsApp, Chatbots, self-diagnostic tools, contact tracing apps and mobile health information tools. Associated African countries with their respective contributions include South Africa (13%), Kenya (10%), Nigeria (8%), Rwanda (6%) and Ghana (2%)

Needless to say, technology was, and remains very essential in various areas of COVID-19. Response areas and other areas where technology is constantly applied include, but not limited to:

  • Control and Prevention
  • Epidemiological Surveillance
  • Contact Tracing 
  • Community Engagement
  • Treatment and Vaccine 
  • Laboratory Systems
  • Information Dissemination

In a speech by Dr Matshidiso Moeti- WHO Regional Director for Africa, he acknowledged that despite being one of the worst challenges of the 21st century, COVID-19 revealed the need to invest in innovation and an opportunity to foster innovation in health technologies. He also commended the zeal and commitment of the African continent regarding the fight to end COVID-19. Notable technological inventions include hand-washing equipment powered by solar energy and mobile applications that build on Africa’s rapidly growing connectivity. 

WHO recommends increased investment in ICT infrastructure, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones and mechatronics because investing in innovation yields huge dividends. Additionally, implementing the right policies is important to boost creativity, entrepreneurship and university-led research.