April 22, 2020, Islamabad — UNDP partnered with National Incubation Center (NIC), Jazz xlr8, and Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination to support the National Health Hackathon. The online Hackathon was launched in response to finding preventative and curative local solutions on communicable diseases including COVID-19. The online hackathon provided an opportunity for social entrepreneurial ecosystem to contribute to solutions for COVID-19, while still practicing physical distancing.

The focus of the hackathon was on both preventive (nutrition, hygiene and disease/health awareness, panic control) and curative (diagnosis, service delivery, support mechanisms for isolated patients) side of health, but with a particular focus on communicable diseases (infectious or viral/bacterial, etc.) including COVID-19. The hackathon aims to look for ideas, prototypes, and available solutions that are relevant, practical and scalable.

More than 1200 applicants applied for the hackathon, out of which 123 were shortlisted for interviews. After further shortlisting, 20 finalists were provided mentorship from some of the prominent industry experts. Final pitches brought forward numerous solutions, including; machine learning to detect cough patterns to see if it matches COVID-19 cough; using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and thermal detection for control and prevention of COVID-19;  using UV light in masks to provide protection against the virus; using tech to address mental health challenges; low cost breathing assistance machine; and mass production of certified N-95 masks to meet the market demand.

“Due to COVID-19, the need for low cost and quality health care technologies has increased amidst the current health care crisis.” Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative, UNDP Pakistan stated, “The online hackathon has brought all tech-based startups to join our efforts to control the spread of communicable diseases.”

"UNDP and NIC have a shared vision of innovation and promoting social entrepreneurship”, stated Zouhair Khaliq, Co-Founder of Team-Up and National Incubation Center (NIC). “The National Health Hackathon is an opportunity for the innovation ecosystem to bring tech-based solutions for communicable diseases, especially COVID-19. NIC would like to thank UNDP Pakistan for their continuous support"

The winning solutions will receive cash prizes to implement their ideas, along with wild card entry for NIC Pakistan’s 8th cohort, and a chance to be part of the Jazz xlr8 Programme. The winners will also have access to mentorship and assistance in implementing and scaling their solutions from UNDP AccLab Pakistan, and access to UNDP’s global network of Accelerator Labs.

For additional information, please contact Ayesha Babar at ayesha.babar@undp.org  or +92 (51) 835 5650

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