“I will never forget her. Her name was Hope.”
Several years ago, Dr Moses Owoicho Enokela tried desperately to stop Hope Okoro dying on the delivery bed of a rural hospital.
“We couldn’t save her. She died along with her unborn infant and she died because nobody knew her placenta was obstructing her birth passage. She never had an ultrasound examination in the entire course of her pregnancy, and she never had one because she couldn’t afford it or the associated costs,” Enokela told Disrupt Africa.
This is a problem across Africa, and why 99 per cent of maternal deaths occur in rural communities in developing countries like Nigeria.
“Like Hope, hundreds of thousands of women will continue to lose their lives every year to preventable pregnancy complications if nothing is done. This is our motivation and what inspired SonoCare,” Enokela said.
Founded in 2015, SonoCare is a last-mile mobile diagnostic medical imaging solution delivering conveniently accessible and low-cost life-saving diagnostic imaging interventions, such as ultrasound sonograms and echocardiograms, at point of care that can help detect pregnancy complications conveniently and affordably.
“We found the main reasons behind the problem were accessibility and affordability. Hospitals and available solutions were not readily accessible, and even when they were they were still very expensive,” said Enokela.
SonoCare was the first company in Nigeria to deploy a web and mobile resource for patient information transmission and interdisciplinary collaboration. Offering both fixed site and mobile solutions, the startup provides cost efficient programmes scaled to the needs of hospitals, satellite clinics and healthcare providers using a combination of the most advanced imaging systems and highly trained, registered technologists as sonographers.
So far, it has screened over 26,000 women from 17 rural communities, and detected over 15,000 high-risk pregnancies. In November, the startup raised US$250,000 in funding from Gray Matters Capital to scale its operations by developing a mobile app and deploying more mobile units for catering to 200,000 pregnancies by 2020.
“SonoCare targets the entire Sub-Saharan Africa market. However, we currently operate in the Nigerian market with plans for expansion across West Africa and the wider Sub-Saharan Africa in the nearest future,” Enokela said.