The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call to action for all countries, in partnership, to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. 

The SDG Challenge seeks to support diverse, transdisciplinary teams to develop transformative, sustainable solutions that will contribute to addressing development challenges under the UN SDGs in countries where Irish Aid works.  

Seed Phase Teams

Backtrack

Partner Country Uganda

Challenge Reducing the burden of low back pain using technology enabled care pathways 

Solution Develop a technology enabled care pathway that will empower community health workers in Uganda to deliver first line primary care for low back pain. Our solution comprises the development of a digital clinical decision support system that enables community health workers to safely identify low back pain cases that are amenable to self-management, assist the health worker in dispatching evidence-based self-management advice and identify those cases that should be referred onwards for specialist assessment and interventions. 

UN SDG Alignment

3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. 

Team Cliona O'Sullivan, University College Dublin, Jerome Kabakyenga, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Brian Caulfield, University College Dublin 

 

Biotope

Partner Country Malawi

Challenge Reducing childhood mortality through improved diagnosis of pneumonia 

Solution Develop and implement sustainable solutions in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood infectious diseases such as childhood pneumonia. Using cellular networks and smartphone technology with AI supported clinical decision support systems, we will collect and correlate new patient datasets to improve diagnostic and real-time assessment of infants and young children in primary care. We are also developing inexpensive point of care tests using host response biomarkers that can be deployed to appropriately reduce prescription of antimicrobials and reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance.  

UN SDG Alignment

3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births. 

Team Joe Gallagher, University College Dublin, Balwani Mbakaya, Mzuzu University, Chris Watson, Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin, Billy Wilson Nyambolo, Malawi Ministry of Health 

Floating Treatment Wetland

Partner Country Vietnam

Challenge Nature based water treatment to reduce health risks from diffuse pollution 

Solution Floating treatment wetlands (FTWs), which are a nature-based solution, are proposed to remove pollutants and pathogens present in polluted surface water to achieve a healthy environment, prevent water related deceases, achieve "zero pollution", cut greenhouse gas emissions, and control global warming. By focusing research on the design, vegetation selection, construction, and performance of floating treatment wetlands, this solution opens a new direction in applying naturally available vegetation for wastewater treatment. FTWs also contribute to increasing green space, promoting economic growth, and opening new job possibilities in the emerging "green" energy sector. 

UN SDG Alignment

3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination. 

3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.  

Team Piet Lens, National University of Ireland Galway, Bui Xuan Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, Vietnam, Chiara Cassarini, EPA, Ireland 

NEOSEPSIS

Partner Country Uganda

Challenge Reducing neonatal and maternal mortality by rapid detection of sepsis in resource-limited environments 

Solution We propose to use a pre-existing rapid technology and validated infection-relevant biomarker to significantly improve the detection of sepsis in resource-limited environments where minimal, often no, access to clinical diagnostics is available. We also intend to investigate the unconventional deployment of this technology to assess sepsis diagnosis in neonatal patients, where minimal volume blood samples are available and clinical signs of sepsis can be varied and inconsistent. Our proposed solution requires no extra equipment, power or expertise to obtain an unambiguous answer regarding the likelihood of sepsis or the potential resolution of sepsis following patient treatment.  

UN SDG Alignment

3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births. 

3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births. 

Team Sean Doyle, Maynooth University, Peter Waiswa, Makerere University, Nicola Mountford, Maynooth University, Mandy Daly, Irish Neonatal Health Alliance, Ireland and Flaviah Namiiro, Neonatal Unit, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Uganda 

SightSave

Partner Country South Africa

Challenge Preventing vision loss due to retinal diseases 

Solution SightSave is a new and unconventional treatment option and consists of an injectable formulation that acts quickly to treat the oedema in the eye, saving permanent loss of vision associated with diabetic retinopathy. SightSave will provide a treatment option to the clinician that has a much lower treatment burden and a unique mechanism of action that treats the root symptom causing vision loss, to improve patient outcomes over current standard of care. 

UN SDG Alignment 

3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. 

3.b Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all. 

Team Cormac Flynn, National University of Ireland Galway, Daemon McClunan, University of Cape Town, Joanne O'Dwyer, National University of Ireland Galway, Michael Waldron, National University of Ireland Galway 

SolarClean

Partner Country South Africa

Challenge Providing access to safe, clean water using sustainable solar technologies 

Solution A solar-driven, 'green', and cost-efficient approach to eliminate substances of emerging concern (SECs) from irrigation water and wastewater streams. The systems will operate without additional chemicals by using renewable solar energy and waste resources. The proposed technology overcomes the limitations of traditional approaches, which impose significant requirements in terms of energy, chemicals, infrastructure, capital, and engineering expertise, which prevent their operation in many areas of the world. 

UN SDG Alignment 

Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (SDG 3) 

Team Demetra Achilleos, University College Dublin, Pieter Gouws, Stellenbosch University, Séamus Fanning, University College Dublin, Nick Andrews, Dawn Farm Foods 

Concept Phase Teams