Ateneo student's life-saving health app earns global recognition
MANILA, Philippines – For many Filipino families, access to basic healthcare services remains to be a major burden. Public awareness of first aid techniques, for example, has not been given enough attention.
This gap inspired a 2nd year student of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health (ASMPH) to design a life-saving mobile application to guide the public in administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Joel Alejandro created “Sali” save-a-life app, which aims to universalize CPR education and training. Alejandro aims to create a population capable of administering, and motivated to do CPR anywhere and anytime. The app also connects the user to a network of fellow life-savers who can provide auxiliary support.
Alejandro noted that "Sali" is crucial for countries like the Philippines, where rescue is not expected to arrive fast because of logistical limitations and traffic problems in many cities.
“With less than 100 training centers accounting for the 100 million population, this problem is costing a minimum-waged Filipino a week's worth of salary. The country also lacks a functional national medical hotline. These two factors lead to a poor emergency response and contribute to an estimated 60,000 deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest,” Alejandro said.
More than a third of these incidents can be prevented through CPR, Alejandro noted.
"This is why we want to universalize CPR training to motivate people to do it in case of emergencies,” he said.
Healthcare as a global issue
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 400 million people lack access to essential healthcare services. Access to services in the Philippines is limited by financial and social barriers resulting in differences in the rates of coverage of public health programs, according to the Philippine Health Systems Review.
The combined efforts of both public and private sectors, including the pharmaceutical industry, non-profit organizations, and governments have recently made significant advances in tackling healthcare access challenges worldwide.
“Our project goes hand in hand with the direction the Department of Health (DOH) is heading. I hope that through our combined work we can achieve greater equity and even better health for Filipinos,” Alejandro said.
Because of the innovation, Alejandro is one of the top 6 finalists in the Sandoz HACk Healthcare Access Challenge, a global competition that seeks young people who have innovative ideas and solutions for healthcare access challenges.
The 6 finalists were chosen out of 110 entries from across 30 participating countries following a robust judging process. The 5 other finalists came from Ghana, South Africa, Pakistan, and the Maldives.
The ideas will be refined and evolved in partnership with the online community before being presented to a panel of judges, and will be published in OpenIDEO, a global community of leading organizations and individuals working together to design solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.
The 6 finalists will go to London on Thursday, March 9, to pitch their refined ideas at WIRED Health, a global event that brings together the best and brightest in healthcare innovation. Three winners will be chosen and awarded seed funding worth EU 20,000 *(more than P1 million), and mentorship to help bring their ideas into reality.
With this year’s theme of “mobile technology," the competition encourages today’s generation of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to enter ideas that harness mobile health technologies to help solve local healthcare challenges
The competition is sponsored by Sandoz, the generics division of the multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis International AG based in Switzerland. – Rappler.com
Rappler intern Enrico Belga Jr is a senior AB Mass Communication student from Centro Escolar University.
*EU1 = P52.98