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Multi-million EU project HoliCare to explore new, holistic approaches for healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa

Hahn-Schickard enforces decentralized Point-of-Care technologies to be combined with targeted capacity building, training and implementation actions towards improved overall healthcare provision and delivery in sub-Saharan Africa

17-18 October 2022, Stockholm, Sweden: The kick off meeting of the Horizon Europe project HoliCare took place under the coordination of KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The project gathers 14 partners across Africa and Europe with the ambition to holistically bridge the gap between technological excellence, available infrastructures, human capital and health systems to foster local uptake of innovative diagnostic technologies and tackle the challenge of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs): a global threat

Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are the leading infectious disease cause of death in the world, and among children below the age of 5. They are one of the major Poverty-Related Diseases (PRDs), representing 40% of deaths and 17% of cases reported in sub-Saharan Africa with 2.4 million LRTI-associated deaths reported worldwide in 2016. Prevention of PRDs in sub-Saharan Africa suffers from major technological and non-technological challenges that do not allow high quality healthcare to reach many patients in remote or resource-limited areas: (1) lack of suitable, affordable diagnostics, (2) limited access to the areas of need, (3) unsuitable business models for investments, (4) lack of standardization, quality control and strategies for adoption of diagnostics by the health systems and the end-users.

A holistic approach to support an Africa-tailored development and successful uptake of innovative diagnostic technologies

The HoliCare project aims to develop a holistic approach in healthcare for sub-Saharan Africa by converging four fit-for-purpose Pillars and relevant actions: (1) patient management and epidemic surveillance through innovative and complementary diagnostic technologies, (2) transfer of manufacturing through capacity building, (3) enhancing human capital potential through tailored training, and (4) adoption & implementation through stakeholder engagement and Africa-tailored business models.

The technological strategy of HoliCare relies on a 2-tiered, digitally interfaced diagnostic approach that will:

  • start in the field using multiplexed lateral flow tests for epidemic surveillance, rapid screening and triage, and referral to hospital only for those who need it;
  • be followed, when needed, by a detailed, differential diagnosis for appropriate treatment selection and therapy monitoring at hospital settings using a POC-Instrument performing nucleic acid amplification (LAMP) for pathogen identification and immunoassays for host biomarker quantitation. 

In parallel, complementary non-technological actions will make sure that the digital, manufacturing and educational infrastructures in Ethiopia, Senegal and Uganda will encompass these technology innovations to facilitate future local product development and deployment:

  • quality controlled biobanks will be developed for executing reliable clinical studies;
  • human capital potential will be enhanced through dedicated high-level training activities for healthcare professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs;
  • adoption and implementation activities will prepare a fertile socioeconomic ecosystem and pave the way for the proposed diagnostic solutions to be successfully deployed in diverse health systems.

The HoliCare consortium

Granted with almost 8 m€ (including UK contribution) and running for 36 months in the Horizon Europe programme, the HoliCare consortium gathers a unique combination of technical, educational, societal and entrepreneurial expertise in order to transform the current practices of healthcare delivery in sub-Saharan Africa, with Ethiopia, Senegal and Uganda as pioneer countries.

The consortium consists of:

  • Healthcare aid and research organizations from 3 African countries who will play the role of “early adopters”.
  • Academic partners with research expertise in health diagnostics and management, and specific experience on African disease programmes.
  • One of Europe’s largest clinical development organizations conducting clinical trials and full-service delivery over an ever-expanding group of therapeutic areas.
  • One SME, expert in Impact Innovation and specialized in the development of economic ecosystems and business environments.
  • R&D performing SMEs and private non-profit organizations that are world leaders in development and commercialization of diagnostic components and systems in the fields of lateral flow tests, assay development and integration, microfluidic technologies as well as digital solutions for communications in African countries and Big Data Artificial Intelligence.

Hahn-Schickard with its proprietary technologies has a major role in the diagnostics pillar of the project, and contributes additionally to the non-technological pillars through the broad expertise of its International Business Development team. Stay tuned for the future developments of this exciting project!

 


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Contact

Dr.

Konstantinos Mitsakakis

+49 761 203 73252 Contact

Competences

  • Point-of-need applications
  • Infectious diseases
  • Vector control
  • One Health
  • Nucleic acid + protein assay integration