Innovation fund should support students

Tuesday April 25 2017

By Editorial

Five students from Lira Town College have developed a mobile app that enables HIV-positive people to access anti-retroviral drugs easier. Theirs is a touching experience, as told in the story—Students develop new mobile app to fight HIV—that run on Monday April 24 in the Daily Monitor.
Two years ago, a friend of theirs, Ronald Opio, then a Senior Two student died due to HIV, partly because he was afraid of accepting his status and taking his medication.
This spurred them to create an app which people can use to access ARVs online. The app comes with reminders on when to take the medication and provides privacy, because even though a lot has been done to demystify the virus, the stigma remains. The young innovators have named themselves Cool Stars, an appropriate name too.
These five are not the first to come up with great apps that help the community. Many students and youth have put their brains to work and come up with innovations that benefit, especially the rural communities.
As reported on www.monitor.co.ug, under the headline, Shs36m up for young people interested in building innovative health products, (bit.ly/2q6nhla) another group of youths who call themselves DrugDash is building a system to enable health centres and drug distribution organisations carry out drug stock returns, so as to understand the trends of consumption through visual reports.
Another group, SNAP HMIS, (within the same programme, Up Accelerate), has created a mobile and web application to enable health workers easily collect data on their clinical activities and have it displayed in a visual way to support easy decision-making.
These are just few of the many groups that are creating apps that ease work and provide important services in a quicker manner.
Such are the groups that the government, through National Information Technology Authority - Uganda (NITA-U), should support. There are many largely unknown organisations and individuals who seek government help on sometimes personal matters. Others seek help for publically known ventures but these ventures are not life-saving or enterprising. Yet they do get the monies they ask for, while creative and helpful innovators are left to seek help from donors.
That we have an innovation fund under NITA-U is a good thing. Now, the government should put the money to good use and support such innovations.

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