Africa’s basic infrastructural challenges – such as poor transport links, and the limited number of medical professionals and clinics – have long hindered the health sector. However, across the continent, Africa’s innovators are looking to leverage technology to ensure quality medical care is universally accessible. Disrupt Africa here introduces five exceptional e-health startups, making an impact in healthcare provision continent-wide.
Kenyan startup Totohealth uses SMS technology to help reduce maternal and child mortality. The platform provides parents with information on symptoms and signals of illnesses to watch for in their children, until a child’s fifth birthday.
Registered users receive two SMSs each week – one tailored towards the health of the child and another towards the health of the mother – with the information contained corresponding to the parent and child’s profile.
Launched in March 2014, Totohealth initially raised US$60,000 in funding using which the startup piloted its technology in Kenya, with over 6,000 parents quickly signing up to the platform.
The startup is now looking to raise another US$300,000, as it looks to expand its operations to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
South African startup Vula Mobile connects general health workers in remote areas with specialists in hospitals via a mobile app. The startup is initially focusing on eye health.
Vula Mobile allows health workers to capture patient information, take photographs, do a basic eye test and record a brief medical history before sending it directly to a specialist. They can ask for advice over a dedicated messaging platform, and decide on the best course of care for the patient.
Initially backed by grants from the likes of the SAB Foundation, DG Murray Trust, The Innovation Hub and the Shuttleworth Foundation, Vula Mobile is currently raising its first round of investment.
The startup recently pitched for funding at the Sparkup! Live event in Cape Town, walking away with funding offers to the tune of ZAR1.1 million (US$90,000) from Ernst Hertzog, Brett Commaille from AngelHub Ventures and Vasili Sofiadellis
Ugandan health information app InstaHealth – previously known as M-Tambula – allows anyone with a feature phone or a smartphone to access health information instantly.
It uses geo-location and an interactive voice response (IVR) system to connect users to health centres, specialists, ambulances and consultation services, while also providing an instant first aid guide, doctor consultations and health awareness information.
Founder Brenda Katwesigye was named winner of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Young Innovators Competition in November 2013, where the project received seed funding. Further funding has since come from the government of Chad.
While currently growing its user base in Uganda, the startup is already planning its pan-African expansion, prompting the startup’s rebranding to make it less locally focused.
Moroccan startup DabaDoc allows users to find doctors and book appointments online in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with over 2,000 doctors listed on the platform across the three countries. The platform features doctors in 72 different specialties across 50 cities.
Launched early last year, DabaDoc has already been recognised in a number of competitions. It was selected as one of 10 startups in the MENA region to participate in the Aspen Blackstone programme in Silicon Valley, while it took first place at the GIST competition in Casablanca.
South African startup CenHealth allows users to keep an electronic version of their health records, storing information from weight and height, to allergies, to test and X-ray results, and allowing users to keep a health diary of all doctor appointments.
The startup claims to host the most advanced public health record system in the country.
CenHealth is hoping to roll out a host of new features over 2015, as well as looking for partners to bundle its offering with other health or lifestyle products in order for users to gain the full benefits of using CenHealth to track their health.