Following its launch on October 23, 2015 https://www.ranlab.org/inter-disciplinary-engagement-in-the-1st-social-design-clinic-at-ran and a follow on event on November 20, 2017 https://www.ranlab.org/the-2nd-ran-social-design-clinic-in-partnership-with-the-social-innovation-academy-sina, the reignited Social Design and Innovation Clinic was held on May 12, 2017 in partnership with the Social Innovation Research Collaboration (SIRC) Hub http://socialinnovationinhealth.org/partners/makerere-university/ at Makerere University School of Public Health. This session attracted 35 multidisciplinary participants including social scientists, artists, engineers, public health experts, medical specialists, entrepreneurs, comedians, maternal health enthusiasts among others. It was during this clinic when the Social Innovation Call focusing on innovative community-based solutions to improve maternal, newborn and child health care in Uganda was launched. Other partners in these efforts include; the social Innovation in Health Initiative as a global collaboration of partners passionate about advancing community-based solutions in health care, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases Research (TDR) hosted at the World Health Organization (WHO) while the co-sponsored included; UNDP, UNICEF, the World Bank and WHO.
One of the presenters during this clinic session, Prof. Lynn Atuyambe, Associate Professor at the Department of Community Health and Behavioral Sciences at Makerere University School of Public Health shared examples of Social/local Innovations. These included Social Innovations directed towards disrupting the status quo of women and child health care in Uganda through improving access to health care and improvement in the HIV & AIDS clinics triage with the introduction and use of electronic numbers for patients accessing services as opposed to calling out patient names. Prof. Atuyambe also shared that what tends to keep even the social solution developers lagging behind is attitude. ‘’We need to have the right attitude towards innovation in order to achieve from it’’ he added.
Innovation is the in thing, let us all do it, Dr. Tonny Mugasa Uganda – Reproductive Health Advisor at Ministry of Health who also served on the panel noted. He cautioned the innovators in attendance to always set their priorities while highlighting that Innovation which calls for a need is also extremely relevant for the Ministry of Health in Uganda. ‘’For us to meaningfully contribute towards innovation for community impact, it is important that we all have the knowledge and interest to innovate. Every good thing starts with an idea, culminating into an innovation’’ Dr. Mugisa added. If we want to disrupt the status quo, Innovation should be cost effective to address health workers’ problems for example but what the innovators need to do is to believe in themselves and believe in change that is doing things differently. He left the clinic participants with a key question to ignite in-depth thinking ‘’How do we help other people to manage knowledge? Knowledge which is a key resource to innovation’’.
It was after these discussions when Dr. Phyllis Awor, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Makerere University School of Public Health guided participants through a question and answer session to get issues discussed by the two panelists but also in relation to maternal health in the region clarified. It was inspiring to note the vigor in the room and urge by the participants to generate and share knowledge not only in relation to maternal and child health but the need to uphold social innovations for the benefit of the communities in need. Dr. Awor then officially launched the call searching for community-based solutions that are improving the lives of Ugandan woman and children, sharing the details in addition to how to apply. This call was aiming at making maternal and child health care more accessible, inclusive, effective or affordable. ‘’We envision that the Social Design and Innovation Clinic will be a monthly event held at RAN to support the development and nurturing of Social Innovations in the country and beyond’’ she added. This call targets community organizations, health workers, business owners, faculty, students, entrepreneurs or government workers who are interested in implementing solutions that make maternal and child health care more accessible, inclusive, effective or affordable.
Looking forward to regularizing the Social Design and Innovation Clinic sessions at RAN to identify, develop, nurture and scale social innovations to address communities most pressing challenges. Innovation does not only call for engineering and technological approaches and projects, it is all encompassing and involving that is why the RAN team promotes work in multidisciplinary teams for solutions through innovation. Participants later retrieved to a networking evening tea allowing more in-depth discussions into the need for social innovations.
This conversation was also shared online Twitter #SocialInnovClinic.