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COVID-19: Inspiring innovation

As the COVID-19 continues to spread globally, what opportunities are there for creators and innovators? Jacob Masenga, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Zambia, talks to Zanga Musakuzi, a Zambian health tech innovator making it easier for people to find health services. Most great solutions came about through creativity and innovation during challenging situations. Here’s an example of how a novel idea can help solve social, economic, and development challenges.

If necessity is the mother of invention, I wanted to know how innovators were responding to the coronavirus challenge. So I talked to Zanga Musakuzi, innovator and founder of MedSearch Zambia.

Tell us more about what you do

MedSearch Zambia is a medical mobile directory app that helps people in Zambia find the nearest health facilities offering specific services close to them, regardless of one’s location.

It was created to make it easier for service providers like clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical services to be more visible to people in need of their specific services.

What was the thinking behind the app?

MedSearch is designed to shorten the journey from needing a medical service to finding the medical service.

The goal is to make medical services more easily accessible to more Zambians. Having an easy-to-use mobile application that lists all the service providers in the country will make it easy for many Zambians to actively participate in the fight against the coronavirus.

Our motto is: “Health care simplified”.

Medsearch Zambia app
Medsearch Zambia app

Every business faces some challenges. What are some of yours?

Our perceived weakness is the fact that we are just a start-up, so we may not get the required finances to sustain the kind of publicity that we would like to give the business.

Our introduction of a new concept in Zambia is risky and has been a steep learning curve.

Additionally, we are dependent on expertise outside the core team and require input from other people who may not always buy into the core concept of MedSearch.

Those are some of the notable weaknesses: finances, that it is a new concept, and that other stakeholders are sceptical of coming on board.

What have the highlights been so far?

We were privileged to be selected for the Tony Elumelu Foundation for start-up entrepreneurs. It is a 12-week programme on leadership and entrepreneurship skills, so we learned a lot of basic skills required for the growth of our company. Another positive has been working with other public institutions in disseminating health information.

What is the relevance of MedSearch Zambia in the face of the Covid-19?

The coronavirus pandemic requires that all available resources be used to provide accurate information and access to medical services. Through our Facebook page, we continue to sensitise followers about COVID-19.

MedSearch Zambia plans to work with all partners to quickly make all centres that are offering screening services for COVID-19 visible on the app. Through our platform, people will know exactly where to go to be screened for COVID-19 in different parts of the country.

The app will disseminate information like coronavirus symptoms, what to do to keep yourself safe, and what to do when you or your loved ones show symptoms and need to be tested.

April 21 was designated World Creativity and Innovation Day by the UN to raise awareness of the role of creativity and innovation in all aspects of human development.

Like start-ups such as MedSearch making strides in my country, creativity and innovation must be embraced especially as the world fights one of its worst adversities—COVID-19.


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