Dr. Catherine Lephoto

Blockchain for health and education in Africa

YouTube video

When cases of coronavirus escalated in countries around the world, governments and health officials scrambled to develop and distribute vaccines. But how can individuals demonstrate their vaccine status? 

Dr. Catherine Lephoto, executive sales director at VX Technologies, is on a mission to help transform the health and education sector in African countries using blockchain technology. While heading a COVID response program, Catherine saw an opportunity to utilize blockchain to create a system of record keeping for vaccinated individuals.

Her company’s product, VXPASS, verifies and authenticates an individual’s vaccination status using the BSV blockchain. It operates through a QR code which can be stored in a smartphone or printed on a piece of paper. 

As Catherine explains, an individual can show their proof of vaccination by presenting their VXPASS code. The establishment checking the code will then be directed to a VX verified website which shows the individual’s personal information. The individual will also present a valid ID allowing the reviewer to match the individual’s identity.

On the question of securing an individual’s private details, Catherine explains that that technology “is meant to only marry the personal identifiable information with the record at the time that you as the owner of the record give the key.”

Catherine points out that VXPASS is not only focused on the COVID 19 vaccination verification process. She says it could also help with the digitization of childhood vaccination records. Medical practitioners’ current two-step process entails noting the vaccine on a piece of paper that is given to the patient, followed by manually inputting the information into a computer database. She sees a problem with the system, saying “half the time that [software inputting] never gets done, so later on when I come back, nobody has me on the system having received the vaccine that I have a paper record for…it’s just inefficient.” 

Catherine is the only VX Technologies executive based in Africa. As she tells Charles Miller on this week’s CoinGeek Conversations, she feels blessed with the opportunity to help articulate the needs of the African people. 

“We always talk about Africa as a land of opportunities, for entrepreneurialism and big business …How many of those companies are actually spending time on the ground to understand what the needs are and develop solutions to address the needs?”

Another issue she plans to tackle is Africa’s education system, saying employers should be able to access a student’s academic achievements through a trusted system. As she explains, students who are unable to complete their studies and get a college degree may still be eligible for work as long as they’ve completed a series of courses.

“I should be able to find a way that I can verify that this young person has actually gone through this many courses at this college. Yes, they may not have yet graduated, but if they have the right skills that I need as an employer, I’m happy to give the right job.”

Catherine’s insights which she imparts to VX Technologies often derive from her own personal experience. As she explains, Africa’s financial resources are limited, and so BSV’s low cost is a perfect technical solution to address its needs. 

Catherine hopes that Africa will embrace new technology. She is optimistic that governments will appreciate and adopt blockchain believing that it will leapfrog the existing technologies that are less affordable. 

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to develop sustainable products …it’s really about being forward thinking in addressing what the needs are.”

Hear the whole of Dr. Catherine Lephoto’s interview in this week’s CoinGeek Conversations podcast or catch up with other recent episodes: 

You can also watch the podcast video on YouTube.

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