Zambia’s Dawa Health, an e-health platform currently focused on maternal health, is planning expansion into nearby countries for its digital health platform empowering rural mothers.
Founded in 2018 as a medical hardware startup, Dawa Health prototyped a wearable device to monitor geriatrics medical parameters to be wirelessly transmitted to doctors for active monitoring.
However, through the BongoHive launch programme, it realised that the original concept was not going to be sustainable.
“Coincidentally, my cousin was pregnant, and her experience and the unacceptably high numbers of maternal mortality in the region were the final push to pivot and focus on maternal health,” co-founder Tafadzwa Munzwa, a medical doctor, told Disrupt Africa.
The startup has developed a digital health platform, DawaMom, that is empowering mothers to receive remote maternal health while guiding them through the perinatal period. DawaMom is accessible via web, mobile, SMS, and audio or text chatbot, and provides weekly maternal health support to expectant mothers.
“Through our platform, mothers monitor parameters like gestational blood pressure, gestational blood sugar, urinary tract infections, hemoglobin levels, and ultrasound scans. Our platform works together with a network of community health agents who provide biweekly maternal health support in remote areas. The medical parameters from community health agents are then wired to trained professionals who provide remote insights,” Munzwa said.
Dawa Health is trying to close the maternal health access gap for women and mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over 830 mothers die daily from preventable pregnancy complications, with 67 per cent of those in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“In Southern Africa, more than 17 million mothers give birth annually, and more than 10 million of those do not have access to good quality maternal health,” said Munzwa.
The bootstrapped Dawa Health, which is in the process of raising a seed round of financing, is aiming to address this, and after “very encouraging” uptake of its beta pilots in Zambia is now already planning expansion.
“The data and results will be instrumental in our next phase of scaling operations and markets,” Munzwa said.
“Currently, we are focused on the Zambian markets with expansion plans to Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Tanzania.”
The startup, which makes money directly from patients on the platform and international organisations subsidising costs for low-income communities, has faced difficulties in securing the strategic partnerships it needed to go to market. Yet now it is off the ground, and ready to grow.