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How technology is solving Healthcare Challenges in Africa

Africa countries  like Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa are embracing technology as a way to improve healthcare for its citizens, especially those living in remote and rural areas. Fewer than 50% of Africans have access to modern health facilities. While this remains a challenge for many developing nations on the continent.

In Africa today technology is making huge advances. But its full benefits will be reaped only once basics like power supplies and communications are widely available. Before now million of patients across Africa die or are injured every year due to unsafe and poor-quality healthcare.

African countries, which have been using cutting-edge technologies to deliver medicine to remote regions, are facing one of their biggest tests yet with the rollout of the world’s first malaria vaccine.

Technology saving life’s in Africa

The advent of technology, especially internet and internet-enabled services, has made it much easier for countries in Africa to provide healthcare services to its citizens.

  • mVaccination pilot programme in Mozambique

In Mozambique, about 35,000 children in the northern province of Nampula have been registered with the mVaccination pilot programme, launched in 2015 by GSK and Vodafone, with funding from GAVI and USAID. In December 2015, the service was expanded from17 to 76 healthcare facilities.

  • BBC WhatsApp Health information platform

Another example is during the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa. The WhatsApp system allowed the BBC to use its platform to share lifesaving health information with people in rural and quarantined areas, as well as ask questions, share stories and local solutions.

  • Robotic Pharmacy system `in South Africa

Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg houses South Africa’s busiest HIV clinic. Far above its capacity, the hospital started using a robotic pharmacy system, which reduced prescription errors and cut patients’ wait times from over 4 hours to under 20 minutes.

  • ­MomConnect and NurseConnect in South Africa

South Africa’s government-run MomConnect and NurseConnect provide a digital platform for pregnant women, mothers, and nurses to get health advice and information, as well as to register pregnancies in the country’s public health system. MomConnect  saw 465,703 users adopt the service, demonstrating increasing maturity of digital participation.

  • mPedigree

In Ghana, Bright Simons runs mPedigree, a breakout business that verifies medicine and prevents counterfeits via SMS.

  • The Novartis Foundation in Ghana 

Novartis Foundation and its partners developed a telemedicine system to expand the reach of medical expertise. The system connects frontline health workers with a simple phone call to consultation centres in referral hospitals several hours away, where doctors and specialists with the right expertise are available around-the-clock.

  • Babyl Health in Rwanda

Three years after Babyl arrived, there has been a radical transformation in Rwanda’s healthcare system. The platform connect patient or community health workers directly to doctors and specialists via phone. For patients using the app, all clinical records are available whenever they need them, including notes, images, video and audio of consultations. Presently more than two million citizens around 30 per cent of the adult population have signed up to the service as part of a subsidised government scheme to increase the reach of the country’s health services. It is a lifeline to those living in remote parts of the country. There continues to be an average of 1,700 registrations every day. The service also provides patients with digital health information, prescriptions, and video and telephone consultations via an app to anyone who has a mobile phone.

  • VaxTrac in Benin

In Benin, 90 health facilities in two states are using an electronic registration and vaccine reminder system through a tablet application, called VaxTrac, with funding support from BMGF . With the surge in mobile phone ownership in developing countries, SMS provide the obvious solution to missed vaccinations in these countries.

  • mTRAC in Uganda

Government health workers in Uganda use a mobile health system called mTRAC to keep track of medication inventory across the country. Today, around 27,000 government health workers in use the mobile health system.

  • Zipline in Rwanda

Since the company launched in Rwanda in 2016, delivering blood to remote hospitals, Zipline’s drones have flown more than 1 million km across Rwanda and has made over 13,000 deliveries there, a third of which have been emergencies. Zipline now delivers more than 65% of Rwanda’s blood supply outside Kigali, the nation’s capital, and through a partnership with the Rwandan government, it now has clearance to deliver vaccines and other essential medical supplies. In December 2018 Zipline opened a second distribution center there.

  • Zipline in Ghana

In Ghana, the company will make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 different vaccines, blood products and medications and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week from four distribution centers. Each center will be equipped with 30 drones and deliver to 2,000 health facilities, serving 12 million people across the country. Each Zipline distribution center has the capacity to make up to 500 flights each day.

Technology developing Africa for better

Everything changes, or so goes the truism. But Africa is changing faster and more furiously than anyone imagined. Even in rural communities, non-smart phones are being used as a major tool to access information, mostly through SMS. Also, deployment of drones technology to deliver health care services in our young continent. Africans are acting like equals in area of business, governance, technology and culture. They deserve a place at the table, and increasingly they are getting one. Some North Americans and Europeans feel unsettled when they realize that Africa isn’t just getting better; it’s getting better at certain things.

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