This article covers some of the strides health care is making in Africa.
1. Doing the tests in the pharmacy
Andrew Quao and his team are working on an innovative project. It involves carrying out the tests in the pharmacy. This allows for leaving the serious issues to the hospitals. These health entrepreneurs are from Ghana. They argue that offering the monitoring tests in the pharmacy will reduce congestion and long hours of waiting in the hospitals. Andrew Quao co-founded Red Bird Health Tech. It is a platform that supports pharmacies in Ghana’s capital Accra. It also supports those in the coast of Ghana Takoradi. The company streamlines the health care system. It provides services like staff training, technical support, and rapid diagnostic tests. The mini-clinics offer their services within 10 minutes. This is in contrast with the overcrowded health facilities which take long to offer services.
When you think of Africa, everyone thinks of malaria or infectious disease, but the truth of the matter is that we are having an epidemic of chronic diseases that are growing. You need a constant interface with the healthcare system in monitoring them. The hospitals are so burdened and the healthcare system is chocked. People are spending endless productive hours to just get on top of their healthcare. We have systems that are set up to treat 100 people but they are having to treat 1000. It’s difficult to get some level of quality, especially for the public health sector.” Quao and his team believe that their company will help save the people time and money while using health care services. They expect it to also reduce the burden of Ghana’s healthcare system.
2. Reducing drug prices
The only way patients can access better health care services is accessing affordable drugs. Ghanaian startup mPharma created by Gregory Rockson links the patients with affordable prescribed drugs. mPharma partners with insurance companies, the government, major pharmaceutical manufacturers and financial institutions. As a result, it helps Africans access medics easily in their markets. Rockson is determined to solve the problem of high drug prices in Africa. “In Kenya, intermediaries’ account for an excessively high 50 per cent that is removed from mPharma products’ final price. We built mPharma to create new business models that would enable more patients to have access to the medicines they need at an affordable price. Among the strides health care is making in Africa, reducing drug prices is the best.”
Today mPharma manages a total of 220 pharmacies. On top of that, it gives services to more than 440,000 patients. Similarly, patients buy the medicines at a discount of 20% or 30% in selected mPharma pharmacies. Rockson is hopeful that brands like mPharma will help in tackling the challenges in the African healthcare system. “What Africa needs is more physical healthcare infrastructure and human capital. Once we have these, we can build technology-enabled products and services to bring more efficiencies and drive down costs,” he said.
Yapili is an app-based platform that links healthcare professionals to patients without them having to step into a clinic. Users just need to sign up their account and fill out a form on why they need a health professional. All their questions on pregnancy, diabetes, HIV/AIDs, hypertension and sexual health are addressed. After the users upload their issues on the app, the app tries to match them with a health professional, preferably in their area. Its co-founder, Enya Seguin, is among the team spread out in African countries to help deliver its services better. Seguin says Yapili services are popular in African countries with about 1200 users in Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa.
“In a lot of African countries, there is an alarming rise in depression and suicide. We wanted t focus on it (mental health) because we realized it’s becoming an epidemic in a lot of African countries,” market lead Rorisang Mokgwathise said in her base in Botswana.
The Botswana based company manufactures solar-powered hearing aids for people with hearing problems. Tendekayi Katsiga founded Deaftonics in 2015. Its aim is to replace the lithium-battery hearing aids that were given out by governments and NGOs. These hearing aids were from developed countries. Despite that, they had a defective battery which only lasted for a month. Tendekayi wanted to provide a solution for this. The only way was through designing a hearing aid specifically for developing countries. Deaftonics is doing well in the African markets with a total of 10,000 units of solar-powered chargers sold in 40 Sub-Saharan African countries.
The co-founder Tendekayi is delighted by the health milestones Africa has made. He is optimistic that this will bring better health outcomes to the overall healthcare system in Africa. “The health tech landscape provides huge opportunities for Africans. It paves ways to improvements in the distribution of medicines using drones in areas which are not easily accessible. The rapid growth in access to technology, particularly mobile phones and network connectivity in Africa, has created opportunities for health programs, training, and data management.” Above are some of the strides health care is making in Africa. Much more is expected.