Back in September, we launched our Pioneers of Health Challenge to find five of the most creative and innovative leaders in health work from across the African continent. We were looking for people and groups who were thinking of radical solutions in Maternal & Child Health, HIV/AIDS & Reproductive Health, and TB& Malaria that could benefit people everywhere. The response from the GOOD community was incredible. We received more than 30 applications from 10 countries in Africa.
Michael Iyanro is a leading social entrepreneur, and a rural healthcare development expert. He is heralding a new paradigm in development: "The Local Community Centered Approach," a holistic intervention strategy that places locals at the center of healthcare sustainability interventions delivering a bundle of programs through the distribution of medical intervention in a holistic manner. He started the "Tomike Health" project based on the unmet needs he discovered while working in the local communities across Nigeria and his desire to bring about a lasting social change. As a development worker that was involved previously in HIV/AIDS prevention, education, voluntary counseling, and testing in rural communities, he came face-to-face with the problem of maternal mortality. His mission is to change the situation for the better and has partnered with organizations like Almonsour Women Foundation, Gender Development Initiative, and Easier Health Consult for the successful implementation of Tomike Health. He is the founder of Rainbow Gate Foundation Nigeria and Tomike Health Venture.
Megan Mukuria is Founder and CEO of ZanaAfrica, a hybrid social enterprise unlocking women's productivity and health through sanitary pads and comic-based health education. An award-winning thought leader and advocate in menstruation management, she was featured in Fast Company's League of Extraordinary Women. Megan has lived in Kenya for 12 years and founded ZanaAfrica in 2006 to address a critical global health issue: four in five girls and women in East Africa are unable to access affordable sanitary pads, and consequently lose key life-long productivity. To date, ZanaAfrica has served more than 10,000 girls, and this year they launched local production of radically affordable sanitary pads with a goal to serve 2.5 million girls and women by 2020. Megan is a leader in policy, having launched a mobile app to coordinate national distribution of pads to schoolgirls after she spearheaded the 2006 launch of the National Sanitary Pads Campaign (NSTC) in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Girl Child Network, and its Coordinating Committee in 2008. She was a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and is the current President of the Harvard Club of Kenya.
APOPO trains Detection Rats to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis in human sputum samples. In APOPO’s laboratories in Tanzania and Mozambique, rats sniff a series of 10 holes in a line cage, under which human sputum samples are placed for evaluation. When a rat detects TB in a sample, it indicates by keeping its nose in the sample hole and scratching at the surface of the line cage. Exceptionally fast, a trained rat can evaluate up to 40 samples in less than seven minutes. A laboratory technician would take a day to process the same number of samples using a microscope.
APOPO’s Detection Rats provide second-line screening to twenty nine partner DOTS Centers, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Maputo, Mozambique. In the last three years, this second-line screening increased new TB case detection rates of APOPO’s partner hospitals by more than 35%. APOPO hopes Detection Rats will have in the future an important role to play in screening large and at-risk populations. Emilio Valverde joined APOPO in September 2012 as Program Manager for the TB project in Mozambique. He has a PhD in Medicine, and extensive professional experience in Mozambique, where he lives and has worked since 1998. Before joining APOPO, Emilio worked for UNDP, Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, and Friends in Global Health. Currently, he holds appointments as Adjunct Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and Clinical Instructor at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Boitumelo Rakosa ("Tumi") was born in Rockville, Soweto, in 1971 and has lived her whole life in service to the communities that raised her. After high school, she discovered her passion for stopping the spread of HIV and became involved with the Township AIDS Project, joining as a Peer Educator before becoming Programme Coordinator. During this time, she worked to educate the community about issues surrounding gender inequality and the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. In 2009, Tumi joined Grassroot Soccer (GRS) as a Master Coach she was promoted to Programmes Coordinator in 2012 for GRS in Soweto, South Africa. Her vast knowledge, wisdom, and experience have made her a driving force of innovation for Grassroot Soccer’s girls-only programme, using strong relationships and new technologies to link girls to health services.