GENEVA —The UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange global event, HIEx2020, has opened, showcasing a virtual marketplace of more than 25 innovations for health from around the world. This year, the event, which is taking place ahead of the 2020 International AIDS Conference, has a special focus on COVID-19.
The innovations presented in the marketplace aim to respond to some of the most critical health challenges faced by countries and communities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Innovations range from products to detect counterfeit medicines and illicit substances to digital solutions such as telemedicine platforms that provide remote online medical services, mobile applications to promote the sexual health of young people and COVID-19 diagnostics.
“We need social innovations and to leverage technology to achieve better health outcomes. We need radical game-changers for adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa to address persisting inequalities,” said Shannon Hader, Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNAIDS. “The AIDS response has demonstrated that innovations driven by the passion of communities can transform health-care access and reach the most marginalized.”
One of the featured innovations uses ultraviolet-free LED lighting technology to kill viruses and bacteria, which has recently demonstrated high effectiveness on the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The HIEx2020 programme will run over two days (1 and 2 July) and will feature key leaders in health and innovation. The programme of high-level events includes Lessons from COVID-19: Innovating to Future-Proof our Health Systems, Young People’s Access to Digital Health and Changing Healthcare through Innovations.
Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, will deliver a keynote address focused on leveraging innovation and leadership for global health. “Innovation must be part of the health-care DNA, leaving no one behind,” said Ms Gabriel. “But no individual continent, country or institution can win this race on its own. It takes a global effort and political commitment.”
HIEx2020 will feature a special spotlight on solar energy for health through a high-level discussion with ministers of health and energy from several countries, which is organized in collaboration with the International Solar Alliance. Primary health facilities in several countries lack reliable power, which not only limits quality of services but also prevents the take-up of digital health tools for scaling up access to health care.
“Solar energy can ensure better availability and quality of health services in areas where there is a challenge of access to energy,” said Upendra Tripathy, the Director-General of the International Solar Alliance. “We should work towards scaling up solar energy as an agent for transforming primary health care in developing countries.”
Innovations for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the crucial importance of ensuring that health systems are resilient and that countries have the necessary technologies and capacities to respond effectively to health crises.
The UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange has been an early supporter of tracking COVID-19-related innovations. As the COVID-19 pandemic was rapidly spreading in March 2020, UNAIDS and the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange teamed up with StartupBlink to launch a dynamic online map of COVID-19-related innovations. The map now has more than 30 000 monthly users and includes details of more than 1000 initiatives from around the world. As part of HIEx2020, the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange and StartupBlink will launch an in-depth analysis of the COVID-19 initiatives in an Innovation Ecosystem Report, which will measure and rank cities and countries globally in terms of innovation for COVID-19.
UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange
Launched by UNAIDS in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2019, the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange identifies challenges faced by implementers and connects them with innovations that have high potential for impact, and links with investors to scale up the sustainable solutions. The UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange builds upon the expertise of political leaders, health experts, technology and science leaders, innovators, investors, accelerators, communities and implementers in countries, and advocates for indigenous solutions, local production and multisectoral partnerships.
Note: inclusion in the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange marketplace does not equal endorsement of the innovation by UNAIDS or the UNAIDS Health Innovation Exchange.