12 Ways Africans Are Transforming Healthcare Through Technology

By Peter Pedroncelli AFKI Original Published: October 4, 2017, 2:20 am
Transforming healthcare - Innovation Prize For Africa - Dougbeh-Chris Nyan's rapid diagnostic test is one of the innovations that are being recognized. Photo - VenturesAfricaDougbeh-Chris Nyan's rapid diagnostic test is one of the innovations that are being recognized. Photo - VenturesAfrica

Technology has an important role to play in Africa, and one of the most important ways that tech is improving the lives of Africans across the continent is by transforming healthcare.

Advances in technology and innovative ideas are allowing for better healthcare and improved diagnostic efforts in communities throughout Africa, including in remote areas thanks to the wonders of mobile and the internet.

From mobile apps to diagnostic tests and startups dedicated to advances in healthcare, these efforts are leading to improvements in the accessibility and quality of care in numerous African countries and beyond.

Here are 12 ways in which Africans are transforming healthcare through technology.

Sources: NewsdeeplyITNewsAfricaVentureBurnThe Star, BizCommunity.

Discovery Health's DrConnect is a new telemedicine products available in South Africa. Photo - YouTube

Discovery Health’s DrConnect is a new telemedicine products available in South Africa. Photo – YouTube

Telemedicine bringing medical care to patients from a distance

South African medical provider Discovery Health recently launched a new digital healthcare platform,  called DrConnect, which uses a predictive artificial intelligence engine to provide contextual and meaningful information based on the questions that patients have, with millions of responses stored on the platform and access to actual doctors possible too.

Saving lives - Life saving apps in Africa help women to have safe pregnancies. Photo - Mujer Magazine

Life saving apps in Africa help women to have safe pregnancies. Photo – Mujer Magazine

Mobile apps for pregnancy health

Mobile apps such as the Kenya-based Toto Health or Ethiopia’s Safe Delivery assist in monitoring the health of pregnant women, with the apps sending text messages to the mother-to-be that are specifically tailored to various stages of the pregnancy. Potentially life-saving advice is consistently sent to the women who use the app.

Nigerian inventor Oshiorenya Agabi has created a device that can smell explosives. Photo - Independent Newspapers

Nigerian inventor Oshiorenya Agabi has created a device that can smell explosives. Photo – Independent Newspapers

A computer that can smell cancer cells

Nigerian inventor Oshiorenoya Agabi has designed and developed a computer that can identify the smell of cancer cells through a combination of neurons and silicon. The device can also be used to detect illness by sensing markers of a disease in the air molecules that a patient gives off. Being able to smell and detect cancer cells at an early stage could lead to huge gains in early detection and treatment of such diseases.

Transforming healthcare

Africans are using tech to transform healthcare on the continent. Photo – Healthline

Software that assists in diagnosis

Zimbabwean Gift Gana has created Dr CADx, a software solution that assists doctors and healthcare workers to diagnose medical images more accurately and efficiently. Radiologists are not in plentiful supply throughout Africa, especially in rural areas, so Dr CADx uses deep learning to interpret medical images accurately in order to assist doctors in general.

Dougbeh-Chris Nyan's rapid diagnostic test is one of the innovations that are being recognized. Photo - VenturesAfrica

Dougbeh-Chris Nyan’s rapid diagnostic test is one of the innovations that are being recognized through the Innovation Prize for Africa. Photo – VenturesAfrica

Testing for many infections using a single test

Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia has developed a potential medical game-changer. This rapid diagnostic test can detect at least three to seven infections at the same time within 10 to 40 minutes, as opposed to a few days in most current cases, enabling quicker diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Khan, CEO and co-founder of South African medical tech startup, EMGuidance. Photo - Twitter

Dr Khan, CEO and co-founder of South African medical tech startup, EMGuidance. Photo – Twitter

Empowering doctors with regional info

South African medical tech startup EMGuidance provides a mobile app, which was launched last year, allowing doctors and medical professionals to source treatment protocols for chronic conditions and information on medication that differs from region to region. The app gives invaluable information regarding specific dosages, as well as which medicines are available and registered by the respective local medical council in a particular part of the world.

Assisting a patient remotely via an online dermatology platform in Mali. Photo - AFP

Assisting a patient remotely via an online dermatology platform in Mali. Photo – AFP

Tech platforms enabling specialist care in remote areas

Malian dermatologist Professor Ousmane Faye makes use of technology to assist patients in remote areas with his expertise, which are scare in Mali. Using an online dermatology platform, Faye is able to provide treatment guidance to doctors in faraway areas in order to treat their patients.

TB-Free Kenya

Children with tuberculosis. Photo: doctorswithoutborders.org

Low-tech rapid diagnostic testing

Developed by Nigerian Olanisun Olufemi Adewole, the Sweat TB Test is a non-invasive rapid diagnostic test that detects tuberculosis (TB). This fairly low-tech method makes diagnosing the disease far easier, within 10 minutes of doing the test, allowing for more rapid treatment.

MOST helps to prepare surgeons for surgery. Photo: Wikipedia.org

Better skills training through tech

MOST, or mobile optimized skill training, is a mobile app that prepares surgeons to work on traumatic brain and spine injuries. Developed in Canada for specific use in Africa, the app is designed to simulate a real patient through avatars that healthcare workers can watch in order to deal with medical situations in the real world.

Counterfeit medicine is a problem that can be solved through MPedigree. Photo: Thinkstock

Determining counterfeit medicines through tech platform

The proliferation of counterfeit medicines negatively affects Africans, but a platform called MPedigree is aiming to tackle it. Patients in Ghana can verify, for free, if their medicines are fake, by inputting codes marked on the medicine packet to a central database, which then tells the user if the medicine is legitimate.

Four young Ugandans are making an impact against malaria. Photo: matibabu.blog.com

Smartphones used as diagnostic tool

In an effort to combat malaria, Code8, a team of four young Ugandans, created Matibabu, a smartphone app that helps to diagnose malaria without the need of a blood sample. Using a custom-made matiscope with a red LED and a light sensor, it can analyze the red blood cells, with the results viewed via a smartphone to give users with their malaria status in the shortest amount of time.

Vula Eye Health app - appoftheyear.co.za

Vula Health app offers feedback on various specialities – appoftheyear.co.za

Enabling access to specialists in remote or rural areas

This revolutionary app provides South African users with access to specialist doctors, which is incredibly useful with regards to rural areas where specialists are not often available. By uploading images and information via the app, the user receives feedback from specialists, with eight medical specialities currently on offer.

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