In a country with the fourth highest mortality rate in the world, HelpMum, a Nigerian health-tech startup, is using technology to cut down the rate of maternal and infant mortality. On the backdrop of this mission, the startup has secured a $250,000 grant from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
The startup noted that it would expend the $250,000 grant on building AI-driven solutions toward the effective distribution of vaccines and vaccination of children across Africa’s most populated country. HelpMum will also use the grant to push for an improvement in maternal and infant health across Nigeria.
HelpMum’s AI-Driven Vaccine Intervention Optimiser, codenamed ADVISER, is a project designed to optimise the process of vaccine allocation in Nigeria, with the intention of improving Nigeria’s immunisation coverage rate. The project is based on an integer linear program that seeks to maximize the cumulative probability of successful vaccination.
ADVISER was initially developed through HelpMum’s partnership with Vanderbilt University – a private research university – as part of the Google AI for Social Good program. ADVISER also received honours in the social good category for its contribution to optimizing childhood health and wellness in Nigeria at the 2022 International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI).
With the grant, HelpMum becomes the first Nigerian startup to receive funding and partnership with the McGovern Foundation. So far, McGovern foundation has awarded $330 million in grants since its inception.
Speaking on the Dr Abiodun Adereni, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HelpMum, said:
“With this funding, we will be able to deploy ADVISER, which will be the first AI-driven vaccination uptake programme in Nigeria. Our optimization formulation is intractable in practice and we present a heuristic approach that enables us to solve the problem for real-world use cases. We also present theoretical bounds for the heuristic method. […] The grant by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation is another milestone for HelpMum which has over the years been a recipient of grant funding from players in the health system globally like Facebook, Google, Global Citizen, United Nations Geneva, World Connect USA, International Youth Foundation and David weekley Foundation.”
HelpMum was founded in 2017 by Abiodun Adereni. Adereni was a student at the University of Ibadan at the time he founded the startup. HelpMum uses technology and low-cost birth kits to tackle maternal and infant mortality.