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. | April 2023
New products to protect supply chains and improve access to affordable healthcare
Afrihealth, a Nigerian digital health solutions provider, launched Rigour+ for Manufacturers, a serialisation tool enabling manufacturers and importers track products across health supply chains and potentially initiate product recalls. The solution aims to safeguard health supply chains and reduce the proliferation of counterfeit drugs.
mPharma is doubling down on its patient-facing health solutions by launching mutti+, a health subscription plan for patients. The solution is based on mPharma’s analysis of 500,000 patient visits to its mutti pharmacies which identified the most common conditions patients sought care for. The mutti+ plan will enable patients access consultations, diagnosis, and medications at mPharma’s mutti pharmacies for “less than N1000 (~$2) monthly.”
Google is partnering with Kenya-based Jacaranda Health, a maternal and new-born health-focused social enterprise, to build AI-powered solutions that accelerate access to antenatal care. The partnership will explore how AI tools can support point-of-care ultrasound for pregnant women to ensure more expectant mothers can receive crucial monitoring. (The partnership is one of several as Google expands its suite of AI-powered healthcare solutions).
Innovators continue to raise funding amid a global investment slump
South African digital health solutions provider Reach Digital Health received a $2.25 million grant after being awarded the 2023 Skoll Award for Social Innovation. The award recognises organizations advancing transformational social change and acknowledged Reach Digital Health’s efforts towards strengthening health systems in low- to middle-income communities.
Chekkit, a Nigerian anti-counterfeiting start-up, raised an undisclosed funding round from Adaverse, RTA, HoaQ, Launch Africa Ventures, and Blockchain Founders Fund. The funding will help scale Chekkit’s drug safety and tracking solutions and comes after the start-up’s selection by Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control to implement end-to-end serialisation and traceability from the end of 2024.
Kenyan start-up TIBU Health raised a pre-Series A round led by Health54, the healthcare-focused VC arm of CFAO Group, with participation from Boost VC, Google for Startups and Founders Factory Africa. TIBU Health provides accessible healthcare to patients through virtual and physical channels – at home and at clinics. The funding will go towards building solutions to manage chronic conditions and improving its virtual channels for healthcare delivery.
Egyptian online pharmacy Chefaa won a share of a $50,000 prize from the DMCC Impact Scale-Up Programme, powered by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre and Companies Creating Change. Chefaa offers a GPS-enabled pharmacy benefits platform that allows patients order, schedule and refill prescriptions.
Innovators are rethinking business models and restructuring amid headwinds
Healthlane, a Nigeria-based healthtech start-up, is shuttering its preventive health-focused business model which enhanced patients’ access to diagnostics services. The company’s pivot direction is yet to be confirmed but it comes after a tumultuous six-month period in which the business has paused operations while its leadership has faced allegations of financial impropriety.
Nigerian genomics start-up 54gene has overhauled its management team and undertaken a round of layoffs in response to a cash crunch. It’s the latest in a series of dampening events around the once-exciting start-up after the exit of its CEO and a 70% drop in its valuation following a down round investment last October. The latest round of layoffs mean the company’s staff size has reduced by around 90% since the start of 2022. 54gene was founded in 2019 with lofty ambitions of elevating African genetics research.
Women-led health innovations are receiving recognition and support
Funmi Adewara, founder of telemedicine start-up Mobihealth was awarded the Forbes Women Africa Technology and Innovation Award. Founded in 2017, Mobihealth is scaling access to healthcare through telemedicine solutions and received a $1 million grant from the US Trade and Development Agency last November, to facilitate an expansion to Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, and Egypt.
UK-Nigeria Tech Hub and Google for Startups Africa are collaborating to promote digital inclusion and support for women-led tech start-ups in Nigeria. The collaboration will see promising women-led start-ups receive up to $3 million in Google Cloud credits, improving their access to cloud technology solutions by subsidizing costs.
As locally-driven digital health solutions gain traction across the continent, Prashant Yadav argues that they can be better leveraged by aid agencies, private philanthropies and global multinationals to optimize the impact of development finance support. Read his op-ed here.
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