Anti-loneliness robot, mobile hospital in Amazon: How Zayed Sustainability Prize finalists are creating new future for health

Participants are proving that solutions tailored to meet communities’ needs are key to achieving sustainable wellness


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 10:10 PM

Last updated: Tue 10 Jan 2023, 10:28 PM

From creating a robot that can work on behalf of a physically confined person, to providing surgical services to indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest, to developing a smart system that detects and helps control infectious diseases – the three finalists in the health category of Zayed Sustainability Prize 2023 are proving that innovative solutions tailored to meet communities’ specific health needs are key to achieving sustainable wellness and a better life for all.

OriHime – the anti-loneliness robot

Kentaro Yoshifuji, CEO of Ory Laboratory, Japan, developed a robot named OriHime, which is designed for people with disabilities or those who are bedridden to reduce social isolation and provide them with the opportunity to work and connect with society. For example, a child who is in hospital for a long and cannot attend classes. OriHime, fitted with a head, eyes and arms, can take the child’s place in the classroom. The child can see, hear and interact with classmates and teachers from the hospital bed.

Over 5,000 users have benefited from OriHime to date, and Yoshifuji hopes to expand its reach after winning the Zayed Sustainability Prize.

“OriHime has benefited people with various disabilities. It helped them land jobs and gave them hope for a better life. Receiving the Prize will allow us to further develop the functionality of the robot and conduct experiments around the world.”

Healing the sick in the Amazon

Expedicionarios da Saude (EDS), founded by Dr Ricardo Affonso Ferreira and Dr Martin Affonso Ferreira, provides specialised medical and surgical care for indigenous communities geographically isolated within the Amazon through a Mobile Hospital Complex. The doctor duo with the help of other friends, including lawyers, social workers and business executives, have been serving the local indigenous population for close to two decades now. Currently, with more than 300 active volunteers and 20 tonnes of equipment, EDS works all over the Brazilian Amazon rainforest completing 50 expeditions, more than 9,000 surgeries, 70,000 medical consultations and 126,000 examinations and procedures.

“When we read about the Zayed Sustainability Prize, we saw an opportunity to expand our global network and develop our institution strategically through the Prize’s support,” the founders said.

Sormas detected 9 million Covid-19 cases

Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Germany, developed the Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (Sormas) – an open-source digital platform for intelligent surveillance, management and analysis tools for infectious diseases. It allows countries to monitor infection outbreaks, follow up with infected cases and monitor close contacts.

“Sormas is one of the few tools that integrates the functionalities of disease surveillance, outbreak detection and epidemiological analysis all in one system. It overcomes the need to transfer data between different tools, thus enhancing data security, speed, and cost efficiency,” Prof. Gerard Krause, creator of Sormas, said.

To date, Sormas has detected an estimated 9 million cases of Covid-19 and has supported over 30 million contact tracing procedures to help control the pandemic.

“We are convinced the Zayed Sustainability Prize will help to maximise the impact of Sormas.”

The winners of the Zayed Sustainability Prize will be awarded next week in Abu Dhabi.


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