Five Nigerian Schoolgirls recently won the 2018 edition of the Technovation Challenge (a major tech award in California) by developing an app that detects counterfeit drugs. Precisely, the app helps people to spot fake medicines. They won the Gold Scholarship for the junior division of the challenge.
The Nigerian schoolgirls were trained to build a mobile app from scratch. They learned this using opensource software from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). They ended up building an app called FD-Detector which uses a drug’s barcode to verify its authenticity and expiration date. This helps users to know if a drug is original and if it has expired.
Who are the Nigerian Schoolgirls?
They are named Jessica Osita, Nwabuaku Ossai, Promise Nnalue, Vivian Okoye and Adaeze Onuigbo. Their team is named Save-A-Soul.
They had spent about five months working on research and development for their tech solution which they hope could help stop the widespread sales of fake or counterfeit drugs in Nigeria.
Their tech solution has an emotional attachment and passion for solving a problem that one of the girls had experienced. Jessica Osita lost her brother to death because he was given fake drugs following an accident.
“My brother died from fake drugs. I’m very motivated by the death of my brother to solve this problem. With this app, we will relieve the burden. I feel very excited!. I want to produce genuine drugs.”
Jessica Osita and her teammates won the challenge that included teams from the US, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and China in the finals to secure the top spot in the junior category at the competition. The girls qualified for the competition out of over 2,000 apps that were submitted.
The girls are mentored by Uchenna Ugwu who has had a profound impact on their lives. She introduced the schoolgirls to computers and coding through her Edufun Technik organization, which teaches STEM to underprivileged children in Anambra State, Nigeria. Ugwu hopes this win will encourage other young girls to tackle some of the problems Nigeria is facing.
The team, Save-A-Soul will also partner with NAFDAC (National Agency for Food & Drug Administration and Control), an agency responsible for regulating drugs in Nigeria.