We are delighted to report that the first regional Hackathon organized by Solutions for Surgery Africa and Surgical Systems Research Group was a resounding success! The Hackathon took place in Kisumu, Kenya on August 21st to the 23rd 2018 in parallel with the Tropical Institute of Community Health & Development Scientific Conference. We had young participants under 30 years old from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania working on technology solutions to tackle the global and regional lack of access to surgical care. Currently 5 billion people, 1 billion of which are children, lack access to surgical services leading to 17 million deaths every year. The young participants from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania had backgrounds in business, information technology, and medicine which led to rich discussions and innovative proposals. Multiple educational institutions in the region were represented including Makerere University, and Muhimbili University. Before the pitching day, participants attended workshops taught by experts in surgery, public health, and global health including Professor Francis Omaswa, Professor Joseph Oliech, Professor Dan Kaseje, Dr Vincent Were, and Dr Neema Kaseje. Topics covered included: "Technology innovations and health: Going from an idea to piloting to scaling up a health intervention," "The economic argument for investing in surgical care," "The Global Surgical Landscape, "Partnerships,"and "Leveraging the community health strategy to improve access to surgical care." The young participants proposed great ideas that leveraged technology to improve access to surgical care in East Africa. The judges were spoilt with innovative solutions, and choosing one winning solution was not easy! After extensive deliberations judges chose the final winning solution which will use mobile technology to reduce adolescent maternal deaths in Kenya. In the next few months, we will be working with the winner Justinah Kavata to develop and pilot the solution with a $5000 seed fund. In addition, all finalists, Aaron Wange, Frank Akankwasa, Hellen Akaro, and Michael Kisigiro will receive mentorship and skills building in basic research skills, grant and proposal writing. We are happy to announce that the 2nd regional Hackathon will take place in 2019 and will include more countries. Many thanks to all those who supported our efforts, in particular, family, friends, and colleagues, who made donations to the Gofundme campaign, the Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development Kisumu Kenya, Safe Surgery 2020, International Medical Response, and the organizing team (Salem Argaw, Nana Adofo-Ansong, Nadi Kaonga, Hetal Gohil, and Intisar Hisham).
Day 1: Regional Hackathon addressing access to safe surgical care in East Africa