Because we track locally-driven innovations in healthtech across the African continent, we curate a monthly newsletter to share our most “salient” learnings in more real time. We welcome submissions and suggestions.
Tracking innovations in health product distribution in Africa
Salient has launched its 2021 report on Innovations in Health Product Distribution in Sub Saharan Africa. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our report features 60+ companies using tech-enabled solutions and models to ease supply chain bottlenecks for health products and improve access to medicines on the continent.
With a 100% increase in the number of innovators featured this year, there are clear signs of growth and continuing emergence of innovators in the health product distribution space. Our findings include highlighting the major fundraising ceilings faced by African founders in health-tech, innovators’ exploration of commercial models for service delivery to rural populations, and the strategic interest in health product distribution from e-commerce giants across the continent.
Partnerships are driving growth and expansion for African health-tech innovators
A new report on the impact of mobile technology on Kenya’s healthcare sector highlights the scale of growing adoption of digital health services. Around 54% of the report’s 4,200 respondents already access healthcare services on mobile phones while 90% indicate they would like to receive more healthcare services through the same medium.
Telecoms provider Airtel Kenya is betting on the trend and has partnered with online pharmacy MYDAWA to ease access to medicines for subscribers on its network. The partnership will see Airtel Kenya subscribers access MYDAWA’s website and mobile app without incurring data costs. It will also enable them to pay for orders using Airtel’s mobile money wallet.
In Nigeria, HealthPlus, a major retail pharmacy chain, recently partnered with Outpost Health, a Canada-based digital health provider. HealthPlus will now offer telemedicine consultations, access to electronic medical records and online wallets to its customers through Outpost Health’s app.
In South Africa, insurance provider 1Life has also teamed up with biometrics start-up LifeQ and global tech giant Samsung to launch a COVID-19 screening app. The app, which is offered via a Samsung smart watch, tracks users’ biometrics and alerts them of changes that may indicate possible COVID-19 infection.
Chekkit, a Nigerian product authentication start-up, is undertaking a national rollout of its drug verification solution in Afghanistan, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and blockchain solutions provider, Fantom Foundation. The nationwide expansion comes after a successful pilot phase which saw Chekkit deploy security labels on 80,000 products, including medicines, allowing retailers and consumers to verify their authenticity using QR code scanners and SMS-based solutions.
African innovators continue to win investor conviction and technical support
Biotech startup LifeQ raised $47 million in a Series A funding round. The South Africa-founded health-tech company tracks biometrics and health information derived from wearable devices, and its software has already been adopted by global wearable device makers.
Nigerian health-tech startup CribMD raised a $2.6 million seed round led by American and Swedish accelerators Sputnik ATX and Norrsken. CribMD offers subscription-based on-demand health services, including tele-consultations and home care, to nearly 3,000 patients. Wellahealth, a Nigerian micro-health insurance start-up, finished joint runner-up of the 2021 Entrepreneurs for Resilience Award for innovative solutions that increase financial access to healthcare in low-income communities. Wellahealth’s runner-up finish earns it a share of the award’s $700,000 grant as well as technical support from Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers and organizers of the award.
Public health stakeholders are working to boost local access to vaccines and medicines
Africa’s Center for Disease Control is taking proactive steps to fast-track vaccine manufacturing on the continent, with support from the European Union. The body is aiming for 60% of the continent’s vaccine needs to be produced locally by 2040.
The move is particularly crucial with a new malaria vaccine showing high levels of efficacy after a one-year preliminary clinical trial in Burkina Faso.
In Nigeria, Cross River state has become the second state government to partner with Zipline, the drone delivery startup. Zipline will build two distribution centres and begin delivering medical supplies to over 1,000 health care facilities in the state.
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