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HEALTH TECH: 9 startups transforming healthcare in Africa

In Uganda, Rocket Health has set the pace, and helped hundreds of thousands access medicines and other services during the COVID lockdown

From Ethiopia to South Africa, health tech entrepreneurs are developing solutions to make quality medical care accessible and affordable throughout the continent.

Nairobi, Kenya | BIRD AGENCY | While African healthcare technology is still nascent when assessing it against global trends, significant progress has been made in the industry.

In 2021, Salient Advisory, a global health consulting firm specialising in African health technology ecosystems, reported that over 60 companies in sub-Saharan Africa were working directly to transform health distribution with models that target and reach health workers and patients directly. The report also stated, “Overall investment in African health-tech ecosystems reached $392 million in 2021, an 81 per cent increase over 2020.”

Here are nine healthcare companies providing innovations and solutions in healthcare accessibility across Africa.

1. MyDawa, Kenya

Founded in 2017, MyDawa is Kenya’s premiere digital pharmacy that allows users to order prescription medicines and over-the-counter products, including dietary supplements, multivitamins, and personal medical devices. They also refill prescriptions after their clients upload the prescriptions.

MyDawa attracted global recognition in October 2022 after it received US$1.2 million from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch Kenya’s first telehealth solution tailored towards HIV prevention. The telehealth program will provide a virtual healthcare solution for customers who wish to access Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV transmission. They also will provide telehealth consultations on MYDAWA’s platform.

2. Mpharma, Ghana

The Ghanian based telehealth company was founded in 2013 and currently serves over 400,000 patients in Africa. The World Economic Forum has named the firm one of the 100 most pioneering technology startups in the world.

Besides managing prescription drug inventory for pharmacies and their suppliers, mPharma also runs retail pharmacy operations and provides market intelligence to hospitals, pharmacies and patients. By aggregating and forecasting demand throughout their network of suppliers, they can offer cheaper pricing to the public.

mPharma is present in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda and Gabon, and recently acquired the majority stake at Healthplus, Nigeria’s leading pharmacy chain.

The firm recently raised $35 million to build a chain of community pharmacies across Africa.

3. Reliance Health, Nigeria

Reliance Health launched operations in 2015 as a telemedicine-focused startup named Kangpe. The Nigeria-based company later expanded into a single-fee healthcare provider to better address patients’ complex, evolving needs.

For a fixed monthly or annual fee, the firm offers comprehensive health insurance through a 24/7 telemedicine platform that allows for medication pickup and delivery, and a proprietary network of clinics through an extensive network of almost 2,000 partner healthcare facilities.

Reliance Health recently raised $40 million in the largest Series B round by an African health-tech startup at the beginning of 2022 with Newyork-headquartered General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity investor, as the lead investment partner. The company seeks to use the funds to expand into more African markets with active plans to roll out in Egypt.

4. Africa Health Holding Limited

Since 2017, Africa Health Holdings (AHH) has established itself as a leading tech-forward healthcare system in Africa, with 40+ healthcare facilities operating between Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

AHH runs multiple physical and digital hospitals. It uses MyCaremobile App to facilitate patient’s access to a wide range of services through teleconferencing, including consultations with their doctors. They also provide access to test results and 24-hour emergency response.

AHH currently operates four (5) brands in Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria: Lily Hospitals, Meridian Health Group (Kenya), Rabito Clinic Limited (Ghana), CarePoint Hospitals (Nigeria), and MyCareMobile (Ghana). The Meridian Health Group owns 16 hospitals in Kenya, including a drug and alcohol recovery centre. Rabito Clinic Limited in Ghana has 21 dermatology and general medical facilities, while Care Point Hospitals Limited has two hospitals and a clinic in Nigeria. Africa Health Holdings also operates pharmacies and laboratories across the three countries.

5. Datapathology, Morocco

Datapathology is a Moroccan e-health company founded in 2020 to provide solutions to the lack of and delay in cancer diagnosis, especially among rural African populations.

The firm develops digital solutions to help its clients deliver pathological diagnoses remotely and in a faster and safer way by securely and anonymously transferring the patient’s digital file to the medical team for diagnosis via a web platform.

The company works with specialists in Scanners, image processing and Artificial Intelligence to offer the best to their clients.

After raising US$223K, Datapathology deployed its first lab in East Africa, starting with Djibouti in partnership with Djiboutian neurosurgeon Dr Elias Said Dirie.

6. 54gene Inc, Nigeria

With the vision of pioneering the inclusion of the African genome in scientific genetic research, 54gene is led by a team of African scientific experts in genetics. The company utilises African genetic data to improve Africa-focused drugs and medical innovations’ development, availability and efficacy.

The research-focused startup was launched in 2019 and has been featured by the Times Magazine as being one of the 12 innovations in Africa that would revolutionalise African healthcare in 2020. It was also listed in the Punch Newspaper as one of the country’s five innovations that would improve the African healthcare space.

In February 2022, the startup was a beneficiary of a $64000 scholarship to boost genomics research from the African Centre for Translational Genetics ACFTG.

7. Quro Medical, South Africa

South Africa’s Quro Medical was founded in 2018 by Johannesburg-based co-partners.

Through remote healthcare monitoring, the company provides services to manage patients in the comfort of their homes. Quro Medical currently has a database of close to 150 referring doctors and has over 90% of South African medical insurance schemes under their clients.

The facility offers a range of healthcare services consistent with patient needs and required support, including remote patient monitoring including scheduled virtual patient visits.
Quro also offers Hospital at Home solutions in Johannesburg, Pretoria and East London.

In 2021, they secured $1.1 million in a seed funding round led by Enza Capital and Mohau Equity Partners, South African venture capitalist firms.

8. Ilara Health- Kenya

Launched in 2019, Ilara Health avails affordable diagnostic tools to health providers in rural areas of Africa. The company partners with AI companies to integrate their devices into the technology platforms they distribute to doctors.

The company seeks to provide affordable diagnostics to millions of rural Africans while digitising the African clinic and plugging in innovations.

The Kenyan-based company describes itself as one that is “building Africa’s primary care ecosystem for the rising low to middle-income class.”

Partnering with more than 800 healthcare facilities with five independent Ilara-operated labs, it has administered more than one hundred thousand tests across Africa.

9. International Clinical Laboratories (ICL), Ethiopia

Launched in 2004, ICL has seven locations in Addis Ababa, ten branches across Ethiopia’s regional cities, and serves over 250 health centres.

Using a state-of-the-art laboratory Information System ensures prompt delivery of lab results to clients in any part of the country. ICL also has a ‘Client Connect’ program that ensures clients can communicate with the laboratories directly to request and receive results. The system also facilitates a modernised, secured and efficient way of keeping patient records.

ICL partners with regional and international health providers in strategic partnerships to provide laboratory services and share results remotely yet promptly and accurately.

ICL is the first and only lab in Africa accredited by the joint commission international- USA in 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2020 G.C.

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SOURCE: bird story agency

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