Vaxiglobal, a Zimbabwe startup which uses contactless biometrics to minimise waste of immunisation resources, improve data quality with open standards and enable the scale-up of immunisation campaigns in African countries, has been named among the winners of the Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa, bagging a $250,000 cash prize.

There were 2 other winners: Kenya-based Flare, a cloud-based solution providing fire relief; and Nigeria’s MOBicure whose product, myPaddi , gives young people in Africa discreet access to sexual health including access to doctors, counsellors, and adult toys.

Co-founded in 2019 by Dr Integrity Mchechesi, a medical doctor and public healthcare innovator, and Tsitsi Eunice Sifiyali, a physiotherapist and public health expert, Vaxiglobal’s solution uses a mobile phone to scan patients’ faces and create digital certificates in a cloud.

“After vaccination, the laboratories create a digital record in our system,” Dr Mchechesi mentioned in an interview. “The traveller gets a QR code on a mobile app or on paper, which is instantly verified by the border authorities who can see where they got the vaccine and who gave it to them, as well as the batch number of the vaccine, which protects the authenticity of each and every vaccine.”

The startup claims to currently have 320,000 people registered, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it further claims to have verified 1.1 million vaccine doses in a pilot project. It has also built relationships with the ministries of health of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kofi Annan Award for Innovation in Africa is aimed at contributing to the achievement of the UN’s sustainable development goal, “Health and Well-being”, and is named after Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize winner,  and former United Nations secretary-general.

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