Because we track locally-driven innovations in health-tech across the African continent, we curate a monthly newsletter to share our most “salient” learnings in more real time. We welcome submissions and suggestions.
African health-tech innovators are expanding service channels to improve access to care
mPharma has launched Mutti Doctor, a telemedicine service delivered through an existing network of pharmacies under Mutti, its consumer loyalty program. The digital primary care service will see doctors engage in remote consultations with patients at pharmacy locations, where they will be supported by community health nurses. The service is available at Mutti pharmacy locations across Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
HealthPlus, a retail pharmacy chain across West Africa, has launched a digital platform to allow users purchase health products and book diagnostics tests online. The platform will also allow users engage in online consultations with doctors and pharmacists.
Six months after raising a $1.5 million seed round, Redbird, a Ghanaian diagnostics-focused health-tech start-up, is making good on intentions to rapidly expand across the country. Its testing service has been deployed to over 400 pharmacies in Ghana, with over 45,000 patients served. The startup has also partnered with telecoms giant MTN to provide pharmacy partners and patients with free access to the Redbird app.
Investors are betting on African health-tech innovators with niche solutions
In Nigeria, 54gene, a genomics research start-up, raised $25 million in a Series B round led by Cathay AfricInvest Innovation Fund with participation from Adjuvant Capital, KdT Ventures, and Ingressive Capital. Founded in 2019 with lofty ambitions of plugging long-running gaps in African genetics research, 54gene has since established Africa’s first biobank and is accelerating plans for its drug discovery program.
In Morocco, DataPathology, which provides pathological diagnosis-focused service offerings to doctors, raised $223,000 from local investment firm WitaMax. The one-year-old start-up’s solution allows practitioners make faster and reliable diagnosis of ailments, including cancer.
In Egypt, Sotech raised $1 million in a pre-seed funding round led by Innlife investments. Sotech’s venue management solutions help hospitals and clinics optimize patient flow using digital signages that can also be leveraged for advertising. The start-up has partnered with over 200 hospitals since launching operations last year.
Can public sector actors be a consistent source of risk-tolerant capital?
South African health-tech start-up Aviro Health raised a pre-series A funding round from ASISA ESD Fund, Tuksnovation, and South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA). The funding will be deployed to improve and expand Aviro Pocket Clinic, the start-up’s digital counselling service which has already served over 50,000 patients across South Africa and Kenya over the past two years.
TIA’s participation in the round, through its SEED Fund program, is noteworthy. It could yet serve as an example of how public sector actors can not only play key roles in providing risk-tolerant capital to foster innovation, but also bridge funding gaps for early-stage start-ups across African health-tech ecosystems.
African governments continue to test health-tech innovations to improve public health outcomes
In Botswana, Drones For Health, a project to deliver essential and emergency healthcare products to remote communities using unmanned drones, is showing promise. Ongoing tests in towns across eastern Botswana show delivery times reduced by up to 65%. The project is a collaboration between Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, Botswana’s International University of Science and Technology, the United Nations Population Fund and Dutch drone company Avy.
In Gabon, the National Pharmaceutical Office (OPN) has partnered with mPharma for the automation of its management and distribution systems. The technical partnership will also see mPharma provide OPN with technology tools to optimize its operations, and set up training programs to equip local staff with supply chain skills.
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