How Somalia’s ogow health is improving care paths and serving thousands of patients

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Somalian e-health startup ogow health is improving care paths, access to patient data, reporting, and public health information for major interventions such as maternal health and immunisations via app and web based tools now impacting thousands of patients.

ogow health builds digital health solutions empowering and equipping healthcare providers, caregivers and governments in the hardest to reach communities, with its products designed to improve patient access to records, enhance understanding and adherence to healthcare policies, and build patient trust in health systems through innovative and community-centric methods. 

Its system is available in desktop and mobile format, and includes a caregiver interface for adherence to immunisation schedules, basic healthcare and disease prevention educational videos, and a Q+A functionality, all in the Somali language.

“Before COVID-19 struck, nearly 3.2 million Somalis lacked access to health services. The need for health systems that protect everyone has never been more urgent. COVID-19 is highlighting how the Somali health system is gravely unequal and healthcare workers are vastly underprepared. Gaps in the system affect marginalised citizens the most while simultaneously reversing decades of progress on health and well-being,” ogow health founder Khalid Hashi told Disrupt Africa.

Now based in Canada, Hashi realised the scale of the challenges on a visit home a few years ago.

“Helping my maternal grandmother undergo surgery, I witnessed the severe limitations of the analog scheduling and patient intake systems, and the paper record keeping in Somalia’s healthcare system. Although a well-known problem, I recognised that with some tech. entrepreneurial effort, and my inherent understanding of Somalia, it’s people and culture, I might be able to innovate a solution,” he said. 

“After some research, design, sprinting, redesign, prototyping, testing, coaching, mentorship, luck and grants, I reached an initial tool that was easily usable and effective, launching it first in World Vision clinics. Since that time, we’ve continued to iterate and expand our toolsets, get additional financial backing in the form of grants, and gain more traction with our partners.” 

The startup’s tools are now used in four clinics, and have served over 15,000 patients. Launched with grant funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ogow recently secured a further US$200,000 grant capital from the Canadian Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FITT), which Hashi said it will use to scale and develop new tools, including a powerful new dashboard for the Somali Ministry of Health to better monitor and report on intervention data. 

“Our solution is supporting rural and urban health facilities in Somalia by digitising medical records; promoting public health interventions, such as maternity health and infant mortality; increasing immunisation uptake in women and children; and providing easy to access and timely care and patient information to providers and caregivers to make informed decisions,” he said.

“Our beneficiaries range from adults, caregivers, children and newborns, to frontline health-workers, policymakers, and health care professionals operating in all tiers of the health system. Importantly, our platform also supports NGO leaders, administrators, and government officials to access consolidated data on various health indicators for reporting and to better inform decision-making and future planning.”

The startup is exploring raising an equity round of seed funding shortly, but has grown impressively without it. Its mobile and web applications are distributed through B2NGO and B2B channels.

“We’re earning revenue, and plan to use those monies and other grants or fundraising on product development and scaling,” Hashi said.

“Our tools are designed for healthcare facilities and workers in hard-to-reach frontier markets. As we look to expand, we’ll focus on these types of markets, and ones in which our partners operate and are in need of solutions like ours.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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