Change the world


An award-winning health application developed by Nelson Mandela University will take centre stage at a major conference in Brazil in February 2023.
Mandela’s Centre for Community Technology (CCT) Director Professor Darelle van Greunen will attend the Global Solutions Forum (GSF) conference on behalf of the South African chapter of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
The forum is a global initiative to showcase the most transformative and scalable solutions from within the SDSN network. 
Van Greunen will present KaziHealth, a mobile application developed by her team which received a merit award at the Commonwealth Digital Health Awards in late 2020.
The conference in Rio de Janeiro, to be held from 13-15 February, centres on innovative solutions with a special focus on UN Sustainable Development Goal three: Good Health and Well-being.
Only one solution from each national SDSN will be featured at the conference.
Launched in 2017, KaziHealth is part of the KaziBantu project, a collaboration between Nelson Mandela University, the University of Basel in Switzerland, and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. 
The teacher health tool app aims to improve the health and overall well-being of learners and teachers in primary schools in disadvantaged areas of Gqeberha. 
“KaziHealth was a large research effort between disciplines such as technology, dietetics, education, human movement sciences, so it really showcases how transdisciplinary work can support the SDGs,” said Van Greunen.
“This app focuses on teacher health promotion but it could also be generalised to other sectors, it's not limited to the education sector only. 
“I’m not only there to present the KaziHealth but also to showcase Mandela University, and enhance our international footprint.
“It will also allow us to show that some of the solutions that we've developed within the African context are also relevant in other contexts.
“Specifically, Brazil is significant because they are a lot of similarities between it and the African continent, and South Africa.”
To give an idea of impact and size, the most recent GSF conference drew 7 000 delegates from 140 countries.
SDSN South Africa network manager Dr Yolande Steenkamp, a senior lecturer in the Albert Luthuli Leadership Institute at the University of Pretoria, said she was “over the moon” that Nelson Mandela University would  be featured.
She thanked the Eastern Cape university for its enthusiasm and commitment, and urged other educational institutions to participate.
Van Greunen outlined how the CCT tried to humanise science by using technology and development to advance the SDGs.
“Our vision for the CCT is ‘in Africa, for Africa, by Africans’ and we focus heavily on the SDGs,” she said.
“In Africa, there are solutions that the rest of the world has not even thought about but they are part of our daily lives. African innovation is in many areas way ahead of the rest of the world.”
In particular, said Van Greunen, mobile technology in particular was used extensively on this continent to support work in health, climate change, smart agriculture, mental wellness and other areas.
Mandela University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation Dr Thandi Mgwebi, who serves on the leadership council of SDSN South Africa, congratulated Van Greunen on her excellent work and international recognition.
“These solutions will be presented to a carefully chosen audience,” said Dr Mgwebi. 
This includes fellow academics who can help translate projects to other contexts, business leaders who are able to deploy at scale, policymakers and non-governmental actors, including donors, civil society and youth.
SDSN’s Global Solutions Forum (GSF) brings together sustainable development experts from around the world to show their local initiatives that are advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 
SDSN’s partners for the conference include:
  • Global Sustainable Technological and Innovation Community (G-STIC), series of conferences aimed at creating solutions that help the economy, the environment and people.
  • Panorama, an initiative encouraging solutions for a healthy planet
  • Germany’s Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which provides international cooperation services, with the goal of shaping a future worth living around the world.

Contact information
Professor Darelle van Greunen
Director: Centre for Community Technologies
Tel: 27 41 504 2090