This Somali-Canadian social entrepreneur was inspired by his grandmother to create a software that helps doctors update medical records and patient information in some of the most hard-to-reach communities in the world
When Somali-Canadian Khalid Hashi touched down in his homeland of Somalia, he had no clue he would someday play a major role in shaping the lives of his people, for life.
But that is exactly what happened when Hashi visited his grandmother for the first time and had a firsthand encounter with the condition of healthcare services in the country while accompanying her to a hospital.
Coming from Canada, on the other side of the world, where health care is vast and free of cost, it is hard to sometimes imagine the rest of the world not sharing in our privilege.
Four in 100 Somali children die during the first month of life, eight in 100 before their first birthday, and 1 in 8 before they turn five, according to UNICEF.
This is why he decided to do something about it, in any way he could.
He would later design an electronic medical records tool, called OGOW Health, that would allow doctors and health care workers to have access to patient information more accurately and with a push of a button.
The innovative tool has been adopted by leading international organizations and even governments.
Hashi has also steadily been recognized for his work, including being shortlisted as a semi-finalist for a Global Citizen prize, as well as being recognized by Alberta Council for Global Cooperation on their “30 under 30” list.
6ixBuzz caught up with Hashi, who now splits his time between Somalia and Canada.
6ixBuzz: What advice would you give Canadians who have always dreamed of returning to their homeland to give back to their people, but don’t know where to start?
Khalid Hashi: At OGOW Health, we deeply believe that every solution lies in the communities we serve. Collaborative design requires co-creation, deep listening, and bringing diverging perspectives and skillsets to the table. This means having conversations with all stakeholders to hear about the challenges and opportunities they see.
As part of our co-design journey, we travelled across four representatives of Somalia. We worked with over 20,000 people, including mothers, caregivers, academics, practitioners, humanitarian agencies, and policy experts. With the support and frameworks of local partners and the government, we collected and translated all of the stories and feedback we gained, which allowed us to improve and refine our innovation.
Always remember: When listening to feedback, try to get to the core of what people want.
6B: What has been the impact made since you first launched your health care resources to those in need?
KH: Over the past few years, OGOW Health has made great strides in pushing social innovation forward. We’ve scaled our award-winning health application designed to support caregivers, frontline workers and humanitarian partners in Somalia.
We won Global Health Innovation Challenges (Fund for Innovation and Technology Canada), and developed strategic partnerships with local government and leading international organizations like World Vision Somalia, SomREP and the Response Innovation Lab (RIL) to accelerate progress for the Sustainable Development Goals.
Our solution is to support rural and urban health facilities in Somalia by digitizing medical records; promoting public health interventions, such as maternity health and infant mortality; and providing easy to access and timely care and patient information to providers and caregivers to make informed decisions.
All of these are helping Somalia meet its SDG goals, and more importantly, improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations in the country.
6B: What’s next for OGOW Health? Do you have more goals for your initiative?
KH: OGOW recently secured grant capital from the Canadian Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FITT), which will be used to scale and develop new tools, including a powerful new dashboard for the Administrators and Government to better monitor and report on intervention data.
Looking forward, the OGOW Health team is particularly excited about scaling our impact to reach every mother and child in Somalia. Over the next 12 months, we’re set to support 500,000 mothers and children with improved access to maternal health, new-born-care, child health and nutrition services.