From Left to Right: Dr. Alexandra Ames, Mr. Edward Inglefield, Mr. Kiran Mathur Mohammed and PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Erica Wheeler

Dr Erica Wheeler, PAHO/WHO Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative gave recognition to the accomplishment of Trinidad and Tobago’s participants in the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) global and regional competition, geared towards improving approaches to health care for everyone.

Details follow in this press release from PAHO/WHO:

To mark the occasion of World Health Day 2022, “Our Planet our Health”, PAHO/WHO Trinidad and Tobago Country Representative Dr Erica Wheeler took the opportunity to recognize the achievement of Trinidad and Tobago’s entrants in the Social Innovation in Health Initiative (SIHI) 2021 global and regional competition. 

The concept of social innovation in healthcare embodies PAHO/WHO’s goal of Health for Everyone, Everywhere. It is complementary to the institutional approach to improving access and quality of care to the most vulnerable among us. As a community-engaged process that values the local context in developing programmes to respond to community healthcare challenges, it delivers more effective and sustainable results.

Recognizing the value of community-directed healthcare innovation, the SIHI was launched in 2015 by UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) in collaboration with several partners. The objective was to advance research, advocacy, and capacity building for social innovation in health, particularly within vulnerable populations.  

In 2021 the TDR invited submissions from Latin America and the Caribbean on the theme Solutions for Public Health and Health Services in the Context of the COVID-19 pandemic. TDR received 106 eligible applications from 17 countries, four were selected with honourable mention, and four were winning initiatives. Selection criteria were relevance, degree of innovation, inclusion, affordability, effectiveness, scalability, sustainability, changes in the system, and inter-sectoral collaboration. 

After an independent panel of 16 high-profile international experts reviewed the applications, Trinidad and Tobago nationals were selected in the winning initiative and honorary mention categories. Kiran Mathur Mohammed and Edward Inglefield’s medl (Pharmacy App) project was one of the four winning initiatives. Oba Gulston and Ricky Skerritt’s Regional Tourism and Health Program was awarded honorary mention.

In addressing the response to the challenge of premature deaths due to non-compliance of medications, Mr. Mohammed stated that, “medl connects doctors, patients, insurance companies and pharmacists, enabling physicians to electronically prescribe medications, patients to instantly claim their insurance and also through our own in-house centralized dispensaries designed in order to drastically bring down cost.”

Speaking on what sparked their innovation, Mr. Edward Inglefield stated that he and his colleague both have grandparents that have chronic conditions and that they wanted to make life easier not only for their grandparents but other persons in such a position.

Acknowledging the impact of the initiatives submitted to the SIHI, Dr Wheeler noted that “they have grown and reached more people, played an important role in response to the pandemic, and are sustainable. Some expanded their coverage from the local level to the departmental level, and one of them is now a binational program”

PAHO/WHO looks forward to the continued growth of the SIHI and ground-breaking innovation for the improvement of healthcare service delivery in Trinidad and Tobago to support health systems strengthening for Universal Health.