Each year, vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million child deaths globally. An additional two million child deaths could be prevented each year through immunisation. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one in five children lack access to basic life-saving vaccines.
With these figures in mind, Kenyan e-health startup Chanjo Plus is on a drive to fix the problem. Launched in 2016, the startup has developed a mobile platform that tracks vaccination defaulters, sends reminders to registered parents, and generates vaccination data in real time.
“Our mission is to enable access to life-saving vaccines for children most at risk, especially in vulnerable poor communities, by improving identification and registration of these children, assigning every registered child a digital identity which makes it more effective to track their vaccine uptake remotely,” Chanjo Plus founder Collince Osewe told Disrupt Africa.
The startup works with community health workers to register children, with the database then updated by healthcare practitioners with vaccinations are given. Clinics are linked through the database, making it possible to access the records of registered children at any clinic.
Chanjo Plus, therefore, makes it easier to identify vaccine defaulters, and ensure they receive their full vaccine requirements. It enables evidence-based immunisation programme management and improved decision making for service providers.
Osewe worked as a community health worker in 2015, and identified the challenges that contributed to children below five years of age missing out on vaccines and or defaulting before completion.
“From lack of macro-level data to inform immunisation programme rollout, to knowledge gaps amongst caregivers on the importance of immunisation, as well as missed data and high default rate due to poor identification and registration, I embarked on and completed the first customer surveys and identified needs for improved service delivery for both healthcare workers and caregivers,” he said.
The result was Chanjo Plus, which launched in February 2016 with a founding team of five members. The bootstrapped startup – which charges licensing fees for its tech – has relied on grants but is now approaching sustainability, though Osewe wants to raise US$70,000 to further commercialise the model.
“So far we have onboarded three clinics within Nairobi, with total registered newborns of 10,000. We are looking to cover 33 more clinics with a total infant population of 150,000 newborns within the four quarters of 2019. In order to achieve sustainability, we are targeting 54 per cent market penetration consisting of a total of 10,000 clinics and an average 1.5 million newborns every year in Kenya alone,” he said.
“Our future expansion plans include Sub-Saharan Africa and this is informed by the technology choice and the design for scale principle for our solution as well as the partnerships with governments and health implementing partners.”