The health sector is a booming one not just due to the amount of jobs and revenue it can generate, but because everyone needs healthcare. Sure, there are those who will take advantage of healthcare and medicines, but others, like Doctors Without Borders, are doing it to help humanity.
In Africa, there are a number of startups that are the tackling the health challenge in a number of ways. None of them at one the level of robotic spines or sleeving humans to vastly prolong life, but you should keep an eye out on these companies:
Cen Health aims to be the “most advanced” personal health record system in South Africa. The platform allows users to log all of their personal health details from weight and height to doctor’s visits. Because all of the information is stored online, patients will have access to their medical information when travelling or changing physicians.
This Stellenbosch-based startup not only launched at international tech event CES in 2015, which is a feat in itself, but has the backing of several Fortune 500 companies, and went on to partner with Garmin in 2016 to develop a connected health solution. LifeQ records personal physiology and health using computational systems, which allows specialists and organisations to better understand the human body and health. It has been a darling of the SA startup scene and even made the Ventureburn ‘7 South African startups to watch out for in 2017 [Digital All Stars]’ list.
Headed up by Neo Hutiri, TechnoVera is a little unconventional compared to other companies on this list. The startup aims to reduce the waiting time of chronic medications at healthcare facilities with the user of smart lockers. In 2016, TechnoVera took top honours at the #HackJozi competition, netting them R1-million in funding. Earlier that year it also claimed the top spot at the Singularity University Global Impact Competition (GIC).
A Nominet Trust 2015 winner, this Kenyan health startup uses SMSes to send notifications to mothers during their pregnancy for the first five years of the child’s life. It offers health tips and simple diagnostic questions in order to keep track of the baby’s health.
Other health solutions
Apart from healthtech companies, there are a number of institutions benefiting the health sector in some way or another.
Healthcare company Johanson & Johnson recently announced the three winners of its Africa Innovation Challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship congress. The competition focussed on early child development, maternal health, empowering young women, and improving family well-being. The winners were Kernel Fresh, which creates organic cosmetics from palm kernel oil, Project Agateka, which provides reusable sanitary pads, and Project PedalTap, a startup creating pedal-powered taps.
Created by AMREF Health Africa in partnership with Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Nailab, the event looks for unique solutions that address the issue of maternal mortality and infant loss in Africa and across the globe.
The competition crowned three winners in March, which were HelpMum, a social SME using mobile technology to reduce infant mortality, Chanjo Plus, a mobile platform to manage their vaccinations, and Wekebere, a self-diagnosis device to track the conditions of unborn children.
International pitching competition Seedstars World saw its own share of health-based startups compete for the US$50 000 grand prize. These healthtech startups included Kangpe, a mobile communications system for 24/7 access to health advice from verified doctors, Jamii, a US$1 a month micro-health insurance startup, and Kasha, a company that confidentially delivers feminine hygiene products through its retail platform.
Whether you have an idea for a notifications platform or a company that tracks personal data, Africa can’t have too many healthtech startups.