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The Äänit Prize awarded to two women leaders transforming African Healthtech

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The Äänit Prize awarded to two women leaders transforming African Healthtech

Published 18 September 2023

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Kira Düsterwald and Maureen Etuket are the winners of the 2023 Äänit Prize, The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s award for social impact in Africa. The young leaders from South Africa and Uganda will each receive $38 000, which is R723 000. The three unsuccessful finalists will each receive $1000 to offset the considerable effort it takes to enter the competition, and acknowledge the quality of the candidates.

Elliot Gerson, Executive Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Chairperson of the panel of expert judges, provided a citation on behalf of the panel. “This year the judges were impressed by five inspired enterprises addressing the challenges of nutrition, maternal health, economic empowerment, healthcare services and language accessibility. All of the ventures are highly commendable and worthy of investment, and special mention is to be made of Keki Mawe and Vambo Academy, already impressive enterprises measurably strengthened since being honoured as finalists in 2021.

The winners are in very different ways driving transformative change in the healthcare sector to make it equitable and efficient, and to reduce mortality and morbidity. Maureen Etuket’s SMART PVD device is a brilliantly practical intervention that can immediately and directly improve outcomes for patients. Kira Düsterwald’s Amathambo AI ingeniously employs digital technology to lower systemic barriers in African healthcare delivery”.

The awards ceremony took place in Cape Town on Saturday the 16th of September 2023. The evening was hosted by 2021 Äänit Prize winner Esethu Cenga, and engineer and speaker coach Thabani Mtsi. The Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s CEO Judy Sikuza provided opening remarks in a pre-recorded message. She said “The Äänit Prize is still a young child in the family of MRF opportunities. I’m very passionate about this prize because it really provides material support to our community and to those who are driving positive social impact in Africa, particularly focusing on the most marginalised populations”.

Regarding the winners, she added, “Their pioneering spirit and dedication inspire us all to imagine a world where new technology is compassionate and ensures better and more equitable healthcare for all."

Kira Düsterwald and her team developed Amathambo AI, which uses artificial intelligence to optimise resource allocation in African healthcare systems. Their initial focus is on automating and improving staff rostering systems, which can reduce wait times, enhance health outcomes, and boost staff satisfaction. By using machine learning to predict patient loads, Amathambo AI will match staffing levels to demand, helping to address Africa's healthcare challenges.

Maureen Etuket and her team at Pumzi Devices designed the SMART-PVD device, a volumetric drape which measures the amount of blood lost after childbirth. The drape will empower midwives to save the lives of new mothers who lose an excessive volume of blood after childbirth. The device provides evidence which enables medical decisions to be made quickly, preventing maternal death.

More about the Prize

The Äänit Prize is a complementary offering to the Foundation's flagship programme, the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, and is available to alumni of the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship and Rhodes Scholarship. The prize supports both for-profit and non-profit initiatives, increasing the impact of leaders in both alumni communities by supporting their efforts to reduce inequality and deliver positive social impact in Africa. The Prize is funded by Ezrah Charitable Trust.

More about The Mandela Rhodes Foundation

The Mandela Rhodes Foundation offers young leaders from across the African continent a chance to become part of Nelson Mandela’s legacy of transformative impact. We offer a life-changing opportunity for personal growth via a prestigious postgraduate scholarship and Leadership Development Programme for those who want to use their talents to serve Africa. Since our inception in 2003, we have selected 622 Mandela Rhodes Scholars from 33 African countries. The Mandela Rhodes Foundation was founded in 2003 by Mr Mandela in partnership with the Rhodes Trust, the home of the Rhodes Scholarship based at the University of Oxford.

For more information and images please contact Communications and Alumni Relations Manager Abigail McDougall-Fisher on or visit our website.

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