The African Health Tech Starter Pack 🏥
Here are the startups disrupting health in Africa
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Hey! Hope you've had a great week.
Like I mentioned on LinkedIn, I have a great article coming up on WhatsApp and Telegram in Africa, but I'm still working on it so please hold tight.
Today we're talking about Health Tech, so I've brought on Chidinma, a growing voice in African Healthtech, to put this together.
I strongly recommend Chidinma's fantastic newsletter, Next HealthTech Africa. You'll be in the loop on how tech is transforming healthcare in Africa.
Okay, lets dive in.
Today’s edition is brought to you by.. Termii
In Africa, consumers and businesses are mobile-first and building a strong mobile strategy is essential to growing.
That’s where Termii comes in.
Termii is a platform that helps businesses connect with, verify and market to customers across SMS, Voice, WhatsApp and Email.
Termii is Africa’s leading mobile communication platform, and helps over 10,000 businesses from 15 countries in Africa - including Paystack, Wave and Piggyvest.
If you’re a startup or business in Africa and want to streamline your mobile communications, Termii is where to start.
The State of African Healthcare
Healthcare is hard. Especially in Africa.
While standards vary from country to country, African public healthcare is marked by similar issues: not enough government funding, too few doctors and low accessibility to healthcare.
And poor healthcare affects everything. Despite widespread poverty in Africa, 50% of the continent’s healthcare expenses are paid out of pocket by individuals.
Nigerians budget the blood of jesus for their health. https://t.co/yUfd0Z94Gh
— Obi of Obinugwu (@UgonnaChidiebe1)
May 8, 2023
So healthcare is tough, but also full of opportunity. The UN finds that a strong healthcare system will boost the continent’s economy, and projects the market to be worth $259 billion by 2030.
And when it comes to challenges in African healthcare (or opportunities to build around 💁🏾♂️), there are a few that stand out.
Fragmented and inefficient supply chains: In Africa, most drugs and medical supplies are imported. This, coupled with poor transport infrastructure, makes it hard for medicine to get where it’s needed quickly and affordably.
Health Data Storage: In Africa, most health records are stored on good old-fashioned pen and paper. It's not the most reliable way to store information and causes loss and damage of information which leads to inaccurate patient data and misdiagnosis.
Brain Drain: Africa has a “brain drain” of medical professionals, as many qualified clinicians leave the continent for better opportunities abroad. A UN article from 2017 found that, on average, surgeons in New Jersey earn $216,000 annually, while their counterparts in Zambia make $24,000, and in Kenya make $6,000.High Upfront Payments: Many Africans bear the high cost of healthcare themselves. 97 million Africans, or 8.2% of the continent’s population, incur ‘catastrophic healthcare costs’ and 15 million people will be pushed into poverty each year as a result of these out-of-pocket costs.
Where ‘Tech’ comes in
And that's where the ‘tech’ comes in. As Africa experiences higher mobile connectivity, internet penetration, and more investment towards health, there is a big opportunity for startups to solve these difficult problems.
If health startups can leverage tech to make healthcare more effective, accessible and affordable, it will impact the lives of those who need care and will help the entire continent grow.
The Africa Health Tech Starter Pack
We have grouped these companies into different categories dubbed the African Health Tech Starter Pack.
When diving into the categories of the ‘African Healthtech Starter Pack’ it’s worth noting that many startups offer a diverse range of products or services.
For example, mPharma is a health tech startup that improves the pharmaceutical supply chain across Africa, but it also provides healthcare subscription plans, diagnostics, and telehealth.
Okay, let's dive in.
Supplies are of little use if they’re not getting where they are needed. And when they do get where they need to be, it’s expensive.
African countries can pay up to 30 times more for drugs, and tens of thousands of Africans die from counterfeit medication.
Startups are using technology to digitise distribution and track medical supply, making it safer, more efficient and cheaper.
Egyptian startup Yodawy is restructuring the Egyptian medication supply chain through its pharmacy benefit management platform. Earlier this year Yodawy raised a $16m Series B to scale across Egypt.
Most healthcare expenditures in Africa are out-of-pocket.
Reliance Health is helping to make healthcare more affordable by offering monthly, quarterly, and yearly health plans while also giving users access to health services like telehealth, clinics and pharmaceutical and provider partners.
Tech-Enabled Care is the embedding of technology to improve healthcare delivery - like mobile health apps and telemedicine.
Africa needs more healthcare professionals - particularly in rural areas - and technology lets them scale through telehealth.
Ugandan startup, Rocket Health uses tech to provide virtual consultations for users and offers lab and pharmacy delivery services through its platform. Rocket Health can be used on both smart and feature phones, making it accessible across the continent.
Poor diagnostics are an ongoing problem with few health professionals and limited access to health equipment resulting in inaccurate diagnoses and delayed treatment.
South African health startup, Envisionit Deep AI is working to resolve this issue through the use of artificial intelligence and raised $1.65M earlier this year to expand access to its affordable AI medical imaging solution.
Kenyan startup, Ilara Health, makes diagnostics devices more accessible for hospitals by letting them pay for devices in instalments, and have serviced over 1,100 clinics in Kenya.
African populations have historically been left out of medical research and are underrepresented in global health research studies.
Nawah Scientific, based in Egypt, has a similar mission and provides scientists with facilities and resources to advance scientific research across the African continent.
Nigerian startup, 54gene, aimed to tackle this issue by developing a database of African genomes for greater representation in genomics research, but has faced some trouble in the last year.
Electronic Health Record (EHR) adoption has been slow in Africa and startups are transitioning healthcare systems from paper-based medical records to digitized records.
Helium Health’s Hospital Management product is being used in more than 470 hospitals across Africa to replace paper-based patient records and facilitate hundreds of thousands of patient encounters each month.
Africa’s Healthtech Opportunity
Health in Africa is hard. But it’s a goldmine of opportunity for the startups that are solving the biggest challenges in health tech.
What do you think of the African Health Tech Starter Pack?
Are there companies we missed? Problems I haven’t included? Let me know on LinkedIn here! We may do a part two.
And if you enjoyed this and want to keep up with Healthcare in Africa, Chidinma's newsletter Next HealthTech Africa is where to go.
And that's a wrap! If you're missing our Tech Round Up today hold on tight for Saturday for all the news in African tech this week.
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