Our Story.

 In early 2017, Dr. Nico Christofi followed his wife to Uganda, where she was sharing her knowledge and training as a midwife. Curiosity about the local health system led Nico to hitch rides with a local researcher to visit health centres in the area, meeting fellow physicians along the way.  Dr. Nico saw first-hand how the drug-shortages and stock outs were affecting the well-being of patients and the capability of health providers to do their job.

 During a meeting at a rural, Level 4 Health Clinic, his colleague, Surgeon Dr. Bernard was called out to perform an emergency C-section. Nico watched as Dr. Bernard looked for sutures to begin surgery. There weren’t any.  He had to get on a boda boda, or motorbike taxi, and first drive to the District Health Office to obtain signed authorization to take sutures from another clinic. Then he had to drive to other health centres until he found one with equipment they could spare, fill out more paperwork and drive them back to his clinic, where he was finally able to perform the C-section on the waiting mother.

Dr. Nico saw this happen many times over his visit – sometimes a shortage of medicine, sometimes equipment – always affecting the care that health providers were trying so hard to provide. Inefficiencies in the medicine distribution and stock management systems were and are causing loss of productivity and deaths that are preventable.

 
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People are suffering and dying due to poor access to life-saving drugs.

Left: Empty shelves in a Health Centre store. Stock-outs are all too common.

Back home, he was determined to use his medical and technical background to do something for the health providers and patients he had met. The first step was to thoroughly understand the issues and challenges these communities faced and to determine the best and most collaborative way to find solutions. Dr. Nico and a research colleague returned to Uganda to map out workflows and document where the opportunities for change actually existed.

Working with the 42 Health Centres in the district, they convened 17 heads of those centres to discuss their unique challenges. What solutions could be found that were not simply a rejig of systems used in Europe and North America? What were the projected health care demands on Mbale District? How could they develop the most advanced, sustainable and functional medical distribution system?

 
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Together, they imagined what a ‘future state of health care’ could look like.

Left: A Health Centre Level III on the slopes of Mount Elgon.

Dr. Nico returned to Canada with a mandate to develop recommendations based on this fact-finding visit. He met with Bryan Plummer and Willem Atsma. Bryan, a 12-year veteran of the international NGO sector, had worked on programs, interventions and solutions in developing countries. Willem, an engineer, scientist, inventor and developer, had expertise in embedded software systems, machine learning and requirement engineering, and years of interaction with clinical professionals in the area of healthcare delivery. Nico’s passion was contagious. All three were primed and ready to think creatively and build solutions from the ground up. And they saw a clear opportunity to do good.

SIGNALYTIC was born.