Kenya is ramping up adoption of digital solutions to drive universal health coverage

Written By

  • Yomi Kazeem
  • Zillah Waminaje

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. | October 2023

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Our new report, Digitized Supply Chains & Contraceptive Care: Opportunities for Expanding Access in Africa offers insights into healthcare supply chain innovators that are enabling access to contraceptive care services and products across 27 African countries. The report highlights opportunities for enhancing regulatory frameworks and expanding innovators’ contraceptive product mix, especially for online pharmacies and e-commerce companies. Read the full report!

Kenya is ramping up adoption of digital solutions to drive universal health coverage

Kenya’s national government has launched a national electronic community health information system to support the management and delivery of health services by community health workers, as part of efforts to achieve universal health coverage.

The digital solution, developed in collaboration with Living Goods, will be available to all 100,000 community health workers across Kenya and will replace manual paper-based systems which undermined the availability and quality of healthcare data.

The system is novel given its ambitious nationwide scale and specific focus on community health, and the nationwide expansion comes after a successful pilot in Kisumu County, known for its proactive adoption of digital health solutions.

Investment and support to drive scale and support emerging solutions

Maisha Meds received a $5.25 million grant from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures to support efforts to expand its digital reimbursement program and increase access to affordable, high-quality malaria care through private drug shops, pharmacies, and clinics across the continent. Currently operating in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria, Maisha Meds is aiming to reach 7,500 pharmacies and clinics by the end of the grant’s three-year period.

Access Afya, a Kenyan-based primary healthcare startup, secured investment from The Philips Foundation and UBS Optimus Foundation to scale of its community-centric, tech-enabled business model and expand access to critical healthcare services. Founded in 2012, Access Afya operates a network of asset-light clinics and pharmacies in low-income areas in Kenya, and the mDaktari virtual care platform.

Avalon Health (South Africa) and Famasi Africa (Nigeria) are among 11 innovators selected for the first ever Google for Startups Accelerator: AI First program, a new 10-week accelerator focused on supporting African innovators using artificial intelligence-powered solutions to navigate the local challenges.

Egyptian startups Rology, and 07 Therapy have been selected for the maiden cohort of  Scale Up Programme, a support initiative for Egyptian startups by 500 Global in partnership with the Egyptian Information Technology Industry Development Agency. Rology leverages AI tools to provide remote access to radiologists while O7 Therapy enables increased access to mental health care.

New market entrants and one significant exit

Nigerian health-tech startup, WellaHealth has expanded HealthSend, its healthcare remittance service, to Kenya. The service enables immigrants in the US, Asia, and parts of Europe to send funds to be utilized specifically for healthcare needs of relatives.

Audere, a global digital health non-profit focused on advancing health equity in underserved communities globally has launched its Africa-focused subsidiary in South Africa. Audere Africa is aiming to advance digital health development by combining artificial intelligence and machine learning research with a deep understanding of Africa’s health challenges.

In a big loss for the ecosystem, 54gene, a Nigerian genomic and biotech startup, has shuttered operations amid financial challenges and legal issues. Launched in 2019, the company raised $45 million and sought to bridge the gap in the global genomics market by enabling the study of African genomic data for pharmaceutical and medical research.

Recommended Read

This AlJazeera feature piece highlights how African public health systems pose barriers and challenges for innovators aiming to bridge existing gaps with technology-driven solutions.

Join our virtual event at CPHIA 2023! On November 23, Salient Advisory will host a virtual CPHIA 2023 side event on “Advancing access to essential health commodities through online pharmacies in Africa: Catalysing Regulatory Reform.” The webinar will feature a panel of representatives from pharmacy councils and drug regulators across the continent. Join the discussion on online pharmacies’ potential and regulatory reform. For details and registration, click here.

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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