It is no longer news that breast cancer remains a constant killer and illness to women, globally. Deaths from breast cancer most times results from late or no diagnosis as a result of the unavailability of diagnosing technologies and equipment mostly in developing nations due to a high cost of service accessibility and lack of technical know-how by medical practitioners.
In a bid to combat breast cancer and create more awareness, Emerging Communities Africa, a non-profit organization focused on catalysing technology innovation centres across rural and suburban communities in Africa, in collaboration with BRECAN, a foremost non-profit organization that focuses on breast cancer advocacy, awareness and intervention founded 20 years ago by the First Lady of Ondo State, Her Excellency Arabirin Betty Akeredolu, who herself is a survivor of breast cancer, organized a breast cancer hackathon idea pitch competition which was powered by Access bank.
Laying more emphasis on the need for breast cancer awareness, the first lady, Her Excellency Arabirin Betty Akeredolu said, “awareness is the entry point to solving the menace of breast cancer in our society. You need to know what you’re dealing with before the disease can be treated. We should all take home the message that breast cancer no longer kills. It no longer kills when it is detected early. “
According to her Excellency, the nation must take advantage of the different means provided by ICT to spread the news on how breast cancer can be detected and cured. She also used the opportunity to stress the need to translate information on breast cancer into Nigerian languages so as to foster grassroots and rural awareness.
In line with this, the Co-Founder, Emerging Communities Africa, Kitan David reemphasised the essence of the competition, saying “we have a roadmap for Akure to be one of the most preferred technological destination for investment by 2025 in West Africa, and one of our ways to achieve that, is to have hackathons like this addressing local/global problems and solving them – programs like the just concluded Breast Cancer Hackathon is surely one of them as this is a major problem especially in sub Saharan Africa”.
The hackathon pitch competition which officially commenced with an open call for application which saw thirty-five teams from across Nigeria apply to pitch their ideas on the usage of technology to aid the early detection and prevention of breast cancer and six teams were later shortlisted to participate in the physical finals which held on Tuesday, 5th of September 2018 at Curators Hub, Akure, Ondo State.
The initiative started with a baseline survey to check for the level of awareness amongst women of breast cancer as well as the simple techniques they can use for self-examination, afterwards, a sensitization campaign was carried out at the Bemore summer ICT camp for over 400 girls across Ondo state by the first lady if Ondo State. The girls proceeded to participate in an essay competition which produced five winners, winning twenty-five thousand naira scholarship for the 2018/2019 academic session and a back-to-school pack.
At the end of an interesting pitching and judging session, three teams clinched top spots with Team Bossom Heart from Benin City, Edi State emerging champions with their idea of using artificial intelligence based mobile and web application that provides diagnostics and preventive support on breast cancer to women with the ability to sync with smart wearables for effective diagnosis.
Team Bossom Heart was rewarded with a cash prize of #200,000 towards the development of the idea into a working prototype as well as selection to join the inaugural cohort of the Akure Tech Hub, FUTA acceleration program, courtesy of Access Bank, Nigeria.
Other winners were rewarded with award plaques presented by the first lady of Ondo State, Her Excellency, Arabirin Betty Akeredolu in the presence of it her eminent dignitaries from Ondo State on the delegation of the first lady.
Emerging Communities Africa (ECA) also supports the development of top quality talent for the local and global market, bridging the gap between investors, donors and possible global partners and these communities as well as engaging government at all levels to ensure that startup-friendly policies are put in place, necessary financial and institutional support are also committed to ensuring sustained growth of the overall technology ecosystem.
It is apt to note that, the hackathon idea pitch competition is an initiative of Emerging Communities Africa in partnership with BRECAN to democratise breast cancer diagnosis and advocacy process through technology.
By Adenike Fagbemi