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No unnecessary infant mortality and access to health care for 100 million people by 2030. These are the goals that general practitioner and tropical doctor Niek Versteegde has set for himself with the start-up GOAL 3. The start-up, which emerged from TU Eindhoven, focuses on the African market. As an intern long ago, Versteegde saw how hectic things were in a Tanzanian hospital. He saw children die of dehydration, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and more. Unnecessary – as was his conclusion even then. “If you recognize the symptoms of those diseases well, they are treatable.”

However, doctors and nurses do not have the devices to continuously monitor, for example, a newborn baby’s heart rate and blood pressure. They also lack the time; a nurse often has responsibility for 30 babies. GOAL 3’s IMPALA system aims to change that, and that is precisely what led the jury of the European Prize for Humanitarian Innovation (InnovAid) to award Goal 3 second place in the competition for a prize for the most innovative humanitarian organizations in the EU.

© Goal 3
© Goal 3

Signpost International Rescue Committee IRC Deutschland won first prize, while France’s Humanitarian Logistics Cooperative came in third. The European Prize for Humanitarian Innovation is awarded to innovative humanitarian organizations, social enterprises, and companies developing technology to help vulnerable people affected by humanitarian emergencies.

The winner: Signpost

Initiative Signpost is a collaboration between IRC, NetHope, MercyCorps, Internews, and technical partners such as Google and Cisco. The Signpost initiative is a “community-driven information service” that gives people in emergencies access to critical information. It connects people in need with essential resources through regularly updated articles, videos, and geolocation maps. Trained community members answer questions posed through social media and communication channels and learn about information needs from their two-way discussions. Content is created based on local trends and questions from the community, which form the basis for new information products. 

Patient Monitoring

GOAL 3, named after Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, founded in 2019, developed the IMPALA system to address the need for patient monitoring in African healthcare facilities. Their device provides a cost-effective way for healthcare providers to monitor and prioritize patient care, saving thousands of lives. The IMPALA system is primarily used in pediatric intensive care units. According to the start-up, it is one of the solutions that have contributed to the historically low infant mortality rate by 2022, as published in a UNICEF report last week. Goal 3 is currently active in Rwanda, Malawi, and Tanzania, and it is hoping to expand across the continent.

“We have a big goal, to improve access to quality health care for 100 million people by 2030. This award is an important step towards achieving that.”

Niek Versteegde

An independent jury judged the three finalists on four criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Quality and sustainability
  • Affordability and cost-effectiveness
  • Engagement with end users

GOAL 3 plans to use the prize – €150,000 – to further grow the business.

Innovative solutions

The European Prize for Humanitarian Innovation (InnovAid) awards organizations, social enterprises, and companies that use technology to help vulnerable populations affected by humanitarian crises. The prize aims to recognize and support innovative solutions that have a tangible impact on humanitarian relief efforts.

© Goal 3
© Goal 3