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AI solutions to improve healthcare in Africa are taking centre stage

Written By

  • Yomi Kazeem

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. | May 2023

Applications are open for the second cohort of Investing in Innovation

Investing in Innovation, a pan-African initiative to support the commercialization and impact of African health supply chain innovators, is seeking applications for its second cohort.

Selected early and growth-stage start-ups will receive risk-tolerant grant funding and access to market support to accelerate their scale. The program is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and sponsored by AmerisourceBergenMerck Sharpe & Dohme (MSD)Microsoft, and Chemonics. Applications are open until June 26. The selected start-ups will be announced on September 14.

AI solutions to improve patient management and diagnosis on the continent gained traction

Guidepost, a South African healthtech start-up, launched an AI-powered chatbot to enable users living with diabetes access care and information to manage their conditions better. The solution will analyze patients’ information and provide personalized care and coaching, as well as connect them to professionals accredited in diabetes education.

Still in South Africa, AstraZeneca is partnering with MedSol AI Solutions to scale an AI solution for rapid detection of breast cancer using a WiFi enabled ultrasound probe. The solution will be deployed in rural clinics across the country to drive early detection and ensure positive health outcomes for patients.

Similarly, AstraZeneca is also partnering with Tricog Health to deploy an AI-powered tool providing rapid electrocardiogram tests in Kenyan markets. The solution, already piloted in India, is aimed at ensuring early diagnosis and treatment of heart diseases.

Both partnerships are part of AstraZeneca’s newly launched Africa Health Innovation Hub to invest in, and mainstream technology solutions to bridge gaps in access to healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved areas.

Innovators secured critical early-stage funding for supply chain and patient care solutions…

Nigerian cold-chain solutions start-up Figorr (previously known as Gricd) raised $1.5 million in a seed round led by Atlantica Ventures with participation from VestedWorldJaza Rift Ventures, and Katapult VC. Figorr enables users track the location and status of temperature-sensitive products, including medicines and vaccines, in real-time. (Figorr’s solution enabled Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency track millions of vaccine doses amid the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine).

Quro Medical, a South African health start-up, raised $1.3 million from Mineworkers Investment Company. Founded in 2018, Quro Medical offers remote patient care and management with a mix of virtual and physical consultations, providing patients with faster, convenient access to healthcare.

…and Zipline’s new mega-round could further scale medical drone delivery operations in Africa

Zipline raised $330 million in a Series F round as investors continue to bet on the promise of its medical drone delivery operations. While headquartered in the US, Zipline’s operations are most extensive across Africa. It has gone from kickstarting operations on the continent in Rwanda in 2016 to currently operating in four additional African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire.

Jacaranda Health is on the cusp of a $10 million global prize

Kenya-based Jacaranda Health has been shortlisted as one of five finalists for the Maternal & Infant Health Award, a $10 million prize aiming to support innovative solutions improving maternal and infant health outcomes, with a special focus on locally led, community-based programs and projects. Jacaranda Health’s solutions include PROMPTS – an SMS service and AI-based chatbot that provides mothers with maternal health information.

Each finalist will receive a $200,000 planning grant as well as capacity building support to strengthen their applications. The final winner, set to be announced later this year, will receive the remaining $9 million. (The Babies and Mothers Alive Foundation [Uganda] and a coalition of Lwala Community Alliance, Dandelion Africa, and Village HopeCore International [all based in Kenya] were also shortlisted.)

Recommended Watch

Maisha MedsmPedigreeZipline and mPharma were spotlighted in “Just In Time“, a documentary by Unlock Aid showcasing innovation in African health supply chains. The documentary explores the impact of these innovations and highlights the role they play in fostering resilient supply chains across the continent, resulting in increased accessibility and availability of critical health products.

Spread the word! Share this with African health-tech innovators, donors, investors and enthusiasts within your network – and tell them to sign up!

If you know of an organization which offers funding or support to businesses in African health tech, please let us know. Our team evaluates each support opportunity to share with our community of innovators. 

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