Jaguza FarmSub-Saharan Africa is home to 19 of the world’s 25 most impoverished countries. Out of the 626 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, 61% have been “classified as agricultural” by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Agriculture made up 13% of the region’s GDP in 1997 and is the main source of income for many impoverished families. Hence, the growth of agriculture could significantly support poverty reduction and economic development in the region. However, despite thousands of families’ dependence on livestock, many people in sub-Saharan Africa face specific challenges. This includes a lack of information on how to treat common livestock diseases, insufficient inventory tools and inadequate access to veterinary services and medicines to enhance productivity.

What is Jaguza Farm?

Jaguza Farm is an agriculture-tech company bridging the gap in multiple countries. It aims to deliver services and solutions to small farmers who lack the information needed to improve their productivity. With help, these farmers can enhance their agricultural processes and techniques to rise out of poverty. Hoping to help local farmers allocate their resources more efficiently and become more productive, Ronald Katamba and Christine Kihunde Kiiza co-founded Jaguza Tech Uganda Ltd. and created the Jaguza Livestock App. The Jaguza Farm monitoring system provides data-driven solutions by allowing farmers to track and monitor their livestock. At the same time, farmers receive animal health data, possible outbreak alerts and educational content on agricultural techniques.

How Does Jaguza Innovate?

By combining data science, expert agricultural knowledge and machine learning, Jaguza helps customers manage their herds and finances and keeps track of their inventory on one accessible and easy-to-use app. Aware that many farmers and users are located in rural areas and do not have access to the internet, Jaguza allows users to use “USSD Code and SMS” platforms to access Jaguza services. Hence, services can be accessed and used offline or online to remove barriers of accessibility that commonly plague rural farmers.

The Jaguza app meets its goals in various ways. After tagging a cow’s ear with a smart monitoring device that is noninvasive and solar-powered, the system gives recommendations on how to increase milk yields, improve reproduction rates and detect illnesses. Developing more strategies, Jaguza also points to drone technology as a way to work in conjunction with data-tracking and herd-managing strategies. In addition to tracking livestock and preventing livestock diseases, Jaguaza Farm allows users to buy livestock and equipment through its app, learn about the local livestock market and access affordable vets.

Utilizing Farm Software

Jaguza Farm allows more than 18,000 users to download its free software onto any smartphone or device. Then, users can import and manage livestock excel spreadsheets and project birth and production rates. Moreover, possibilities include the ability to set up and monitor alerts and access satellite maps to view weather forecasts.

The Jaguza Farm Software allows African farmers to track animal databases through ear tag and sensor numbers. This technology allows farmers to keep health records to plan for long-term and short-term decisions instantly on the navigatable Jaguza cloud server. Ultimately, Jaguza software allows thousands of farmers the chance to better allocate their resources and increase their revenues.

Recognizing Impact and Potential

Currently impacting farmers in 13 different countries, Jaguza has helped its clients see an increase of 35% in their livestock production. Helping accelerate e-agriculture entrepreneurship for growth and job creation in Africa, Jaguza won the 2019 Pitch AgriHack competition, which recognizes young entrepreneurs who work to create a more sustainable economy in the region. The United Nations in Uganda also selected Jaguza Farm as the most innovative startup in 2014. The organization’s efforts were also recognized by IST Africa, the Ashoka Organization and Ikea Social Entrepreneurship.

Providing farmers with innovative and accessible tools improves conditions for countless people. As Jaguza Farm continues to work on behalf of African farmers, a measurable impact in the region becomes more recognizable as farmers are able to rise out of poverty.

Carolina Cadena
Photo: Flickr

introvert's guide to fighting global povertyThere is a common misconception that activism with a physical presence, like attending protests or lobbying, is the only kind that can make a difference. While these are effective ways to influence legislation, there are many other ways to create change and contribute to the fight against global poverty. An ordinary individual can play a role in creating global change by taking action online, without ever needing to leave their home. An introvert’s guide to fighting global poverty shows that anyone can contribute to addressing global issues regardless of personality type.

Fighting Poverty by Influencing Legislation

One of the most effective ways to help in the fight against poverty is to influence legislation. While lobbying is an effective way to do this, most U.S. congresspersons give their constituents the option to contact them by calling or emailing their offices. With the option to contact Congress in this way, constituents can voice their concerns easily and effectively.

Grassroot efforts such as calling and emailing Congress as well as advocacy helped pass integral pieces of legislation such as the Global Fragility Act and the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act. For an easy way to contact Congress about poverty-based legislation, interested persons can access a pre-filled email template from The Borgen Project.

Fighting Poverty Through Apps

Apps and social media movements can also be very effective tools in the fight against poverty. The World Food Programme (WFP) recognizes this and has created various apps through which users can help mitigate hunger in their spare time. With the Freerice app, users can earn rice for those in need just by answering trivia questions. The app earnings are supported by “in-house sponsors.” According to the WFP, Freerice has raised and donated 210 billion grains of rice since 2010.

Additionally, the WFP has created an app called ShareTheMeal. The meal donation app aims to improve food security throughout the world. With a click of a button, an ordinary individual can contribute to a day’s worth of meals for a child at the cost of just $0.80. Through ShareTheMeal, more than 115 million meals have been provided to those in need as of July 16, 2021.

Knowing the Facts

While it may not seem like the most effective form of activism, one of the easiest ways to spread awareness about an issue is to talk about it within one’s social network. But, in order to effectively discuss global issues, an individual should familiarize themself with the facts.

Some of the most well-known humanitarian organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization, offer educational resources about hunger, health and poverty. To expand awareness into one’s social network, it is important to know these facts and statistics.

Every year, the WHO publishes a World Health Statistics report. In the 2021 report, the WHO describes the connection between exacerbated poverty and COVID-19 as well as the way that diseases like tuberculosis can impact poverty due to a lack of healthcare.

By understanding the nuances of global poverty, one can become a more informed advocate for a global issue, increasing the power of influence and the likelihood of persuading friends and family to support legislation.

Looking Forward: Advocacy, Education and Mobilization

With these methods in mind, one of the most effective ways to be an activist from home is to mobilize within one’s own social network. By ensuring that friends and family are also advocating for a cause, one can effectively create a much larger web of support for a cause.

An introvert’s guide to fighting global poverty shows that there are vast ways to support global issues without needing to step out of one’s comfort zone. Whether one is voicing support for particular pieces of legislation or whether an individual uses one of the many apps that help alleviate hunger, garnering more supporters will ultimately help sustain a grassroots effort and fight global poverty.

– Samuel Weinmann
Photo: Unsplash

Agricultural Tech Startups in IndiaFarmers make up more than 40% of the working population in India. These farmers work tirelessly to provide crops for the nation and other countries worldwide. To make their lives easier, agricultural tech startups in India have been developing new systems to make farming more efficient. CropIn, DeHaat, Fasal and Intello Labs are four startups making a difference in agriculture.

CropIn by SmartFarm

First, in 2010, CropIn’s founders developed a phone application called SmartFarm to produce profit reports and weather analyses. CropIn also optimizes crop production and digitizes farm ecosystems. Moreover, the company uses artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) to provide precise and accurate data for farmers using the app. The startup also utilizes other software and applications. SmartRisk, SmartWare and RootTrace are examples that target different facets of the agricultural industry, including food safety and sustainability. The company has had a tremendous impact on India so far. The company has implemented the services of the app on 13 million acres of land and helped four million farmers. Thus, the future of CropIn is hopeful.

DeHaat’s Online Community

In 2012, DeHaat came about. One of its main goals is to provide an online community for farmers in India. DeHaat presents forecast reports, daily crop reminders, inputs on profit maximization, “advice on crops, pests, soil and seeds” and several other agricultural services. By focusing on the needs of farmers, DeHaat aims to increase profitability and productivity to reduce poverty. Furthermore, the company makes accessibility a priority. It offers an application in which global users can communicate and a daily helpline for farmers without smartphones. This startup has helped more than 210,000 farmers in India and expectations determine that it will reach and serve more farmers within the coming years.

Agricultural Tech Startup Fasal

Fasal is a 2018 startup that improves accuracy within farming to increase profitability and eliminate guessing. The company developed an app to continuously monitor farm data, improving accessibility for farmers. Moreover, it created an IoT device called Fasal Sense that monitors the farm and collects data. Through AI, Fasal can deliver “farm-specific, crop-specific, crop-stage specific, actionable advisory.”

The village of Chhattisgarh is a prime example of Fasal’s success, where vegetable farmer Prasant Maroo started using the startup’s technology in 2018. Maroo noticed a 20% increase in production of two of his main crops, chilli and brinjal. By using the AI technology that Fasal provided, he was able to use less water. Water scarcity and over-irrigation are prevalent issues in Indian villages, so this factor is very promising for eliminating resource wastage. Maroo is not the only farmer who has benefited from Fasal. Fasal also allows for irrigation schedule monitoring, forecast alerts and disease management.

Digital Tech Through Intello Labs

Intello Labs began in Gurugram, India. In 2016, the company made a goal to minimize food loss in farming through digital technology. It uses “AI, ML and computer vision” to evaluate food quality in fruits and vegetables, improving the quality of goods that farmers grow, package and sell. Intello Labs developed an app that allows users to take pictures of multiple food items at a time and give feedback on the quality of the items. Users can also selectively pick the individual items desired from a batch of produce, helping to eliminate waste. Overall, the startup is increasing food quality in a cost-efficient manner within the agricultural and food industry.

The Future of India’s Agriculture

In India, farmers and their families’ livelihoods depend on agricultural success. Overall, agricultural tech startups in India, like CropIn, DeHaat, Fasal, Intello Labs and other companies, are allocating resources to yield quality food to the consumer and provide the advantages of technology to farmers in India. With these four new innovative agricultural tech startups in India changing the way the country farms, AI and IoT can supply detailed data to reduce poverty and improve farming.

– Karuna Lakhiani
Photo: Flickr

MFineMany people in India, especially low-income citizens, are subjected to low-quality primary and hospital care. Several challenges stand in the way of quality healthcare in India. Although India has eradicated polio, decreased tropical disease-based epidemics and gained more control over HIV, the country still struggles to maintain “accessibility, affordability and quality” in regard to healthcare. MFine, a health technology AI startup, aims to relieve these issues by providing instant access to quality medical care through a virtual platform offering medical consultations and connected care programs.

What MFine Provides

Founded in 2017, MFine was initially developed by Ashutosh Lawania and Prasad Kompalli. MFine, India’s leading digital health startup, has grown to consist of more than 4,000 doctors, including the country’s best doctors from 600 reputable hospitals. MFine’s platform includes teleconsultations with doctors on a variety of chronic illnesses including diabetes, arthritis and viral infections.

Through its mobile app, MFine provides the user with services such as “diagnostics, health checks, radiology” and an online pharmacy. The year 2020 has presented MFine with a unique opportunity to help millions of people access quality healthcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the enforcement of lockdown policies and social distancing, digital healthcare in India has become all the more crucial, making MFine all the more relevant.

How MFine Aids Healthcare in India

Healthcare in India is defined by two different sectors: the private and public systems. In the public sector of government facilities, Indians have free access to outpatient and inpatient care. However, this system receives very little funding, resulting in shortages in personnel and medical supplies. For this reason, many people look to the private sector for care, however, the private sector requires out-of-pocket payments, which is a challenge for low-income citizens.

In addition to the challenges India already faces, the country is also battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 virus has spread to Indian villages where quality healthcare is scarce. The Washington Post reported in May 2021 that, in the village of Banail, more than 20 people have died from COVID-19 within two weeks. This tragedy, however, is not just limited to Banail. More than 65% of people live in the rural outskirts of India. These areas managed to avoid the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but unfortunately, villages are now also facing rising COVID-19 infections.

MFine’s Benefits

During unprecedented times, MFine has several benefits in the healthcare arena:

  • Cost-effective and high-quality healthcare services
  • On-demand access to outstanding healthcare services
  • Teleconsultations with doctors on chronic health conditions
  • Easy access to diagnostic services, health checks and an online pharmacy

MFine recently raised $16 million in funding and achieved tenfold growth due to the increasing popularity of telemedicine in India in 2020. Advances in technology are important for improving healthcare in India. Especially during a pandemic, digital health is a top priority. Globally, telemedicine was the top-funded category in digital health in 2020. With support and funding, digital companies such as MFine can deliver AI-driven, easy access healthcare across India. In a time when disease is rampant and rural villages cannot easily access the healthcare needed, digital healthcare is a saving grace.

Addison Franklin
Photo: Flickr

Apps Fighting World Hunger: Fighting World Hunger with a PhoneHunger is a problem for more than 600 million people around the world. The number of people that are food-insecure, meaning that they lack “consistent access to enough food to have an active and healthy life,” has risen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding America projects that the 2018 food insecurity rate will increase by nearly 5% among the general population due to the pandemic. One can see similar trends worldwide. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that approximately 111 million more people will experience acute food insecurity in 2021 than in 2020. In response to data like this, a number of companies have developed apps fighting world hunger or have included new forums within pre-existing apps to help reduce hunger’s impact internationally.

Rakuten Viber

Rakuten Viber, a communication app, announced it would initiate a campaign to raise funds to combat world hunger. The campaign includes a “Fighting World Hunger” community group, which resembles a large chatroom that members can add themselves to. The group aims to promote the improvement of members’ consumption habits by focusing on ways to consciously shop, cook and eat to reduce food waste, as well as posting data regularly about world hunger for members to read.

In addition to creating its community, Viber also launched a downloadable food-themed sticker package, of which proceeds will be donated to the cause. This is an addition to committing to donate $10,000 to charities fighting world hunger like the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World Wide Fund (for Nature) (WWF), UNICEF, U-report and U.N. Migration once the community group reaches one million users.


ShareTheMeal, an app developed by the U.N.’s World Food Programme, allows users to donate to help feed children worldwide. With a quick tap, the program accepts a $0.80 donation — the amount the organization has deemed necessary to pay for a meal abroad for most children. Since launching, ShareTheMeal has shared more than 100 million meals with those in need.


Chowberry, a Nigerian-based app, is also fighting global hunger. Chowberry is focused on ending food waste in Africa by connecting families in need to local supermarkets with nearly expired — but still safe for consumption — foods. Stores use the Chowberry app to scan the barcodes of food products. Once uploaded, the app informs retailers when the products have reached the “best before” date and automatically offers those products at a reduced price through the app and the accompanying retail website. The closer the products are to the latest possible selling date, the lower the price is. For more economically unstable families, the app helps provide more affordable and consistent food options without causing retailers to lose profit.


Another app fighting world hunger is OLIO, an app that encourages community sharing. OLIO members upload photos and descriptions to the app of food or other household items they no longer want or cannot use. Other members can then browse for items through the app, directly message the person who posted about the items and arrange pickup for the items they would like to claim. The app currently hosts more than three million users and has shared more than 21 million portions of food across 51 countries. The app’s navigation is only available for English and Spanish speakers, but people can use local languages in messaging and posting. OLIO hopes to add more languages soon to become more user-friendly.

Apps Fighting World Hunger

Hunger is a significant issue affecting countries across the world. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, global hunger rates have grown along with the number of families suffering from acute food insecurity. While several international programs offer hunger relief on a larger scale, millions of people can also help lessen the impact of COVID-19 and other global crises by downloading apps fighting world hunger.

– Grace Parker
Photo: Flickr

SMS App in TanzaniaIn low-to-middle-income countries, there are employers and workers who lack a central area to place job postings or find jobs with ease. In Tanzania, this lack of communication causes employers to hire workers from within their own villages, limiting the reach of their network. This limitation, along with unclear instructions and expensive job search costs, ultimately leads to a broad pay range for similar work. To resolve this issue, a researcher tested how an SMS-based messaging app can be effective when people search for a job in rural Tanzania. The findings were that the creation of this SMS app in Tanzania more easily allowed employees to connect with employers and reduced the wage gap.

No Internet Needed

While the SMS app is similar to online job search websites, it does not rely on internet access. The app simply asks a few important questions about their searches. For example, the app asks employers and workers to identify how much they are willing to pay or how much they wish employers to pay them. The intention of this feature is to lower business deal costs, but it may persuade users to bargain and alter the wages. However, the SMS app can also assist in updating the dispersal of wage offerings in the labor market.

When an employer posts a job, the job listing provides answers to frequently asked questions such as the wage, job type and date the job starts. Once qualified workers receive the advertisement, employers can immediately contact them, thereby lowering the costs it would take to meet in person. The advertisement includes a specific job code, so the workers text the correct code to the employers to apply for the position. After the employer receives the application, they exchange phone numbers and names with potential employees in order to further discuss the details of the job.

How the App Works

Employers can announce job descriptions through an SMS that all listed workers in the neighboring areas receive. This enables employers to extend their offer to more workers instantly. When a worker responds to the job advertisement, the app immediately directs the worker’s application to the employer. After experimenting with the app for one agricultural season, the research found that a large number of villagers began to use the SMS app and were finding success in connecting workers and employees. While the app does not increase the number of jobs available, it does decrease the wage spread.

Decreasing the Wage Gap

The agricultural production of Tanzania is self-reliant, and while Tanzanian families typically carry out their own farming responsibilities, farmers still hire some daily laborers to help. The payments for these workers range from $1.20 to $6.50 per day. However, the outcomes of the assessment established that the SMS-based messaging app lowered the wage gap in the villages, which means employers paid workers wages that matched the average payment for that job. High-paying employers contributed to this reduction by lowering the amount they paid workers, while the low-paying employers raised wages. These results suggest that the app could successfully cause a more permanent reduction in the wage gap and job search costs and create a more efficient labor market.

Increasing Communication

An SMS app that announces obtainable jobs and offers simple job applications through the short messaging system has the capability to upgrade the performance of the agricultural labor business. It will be much easier for workers and employers to look for each other because workers will have access to new job openings, and employers will be able to consider potential hires who are not accessible in their current labor network. This system of hiring is necessary because employers routinely have trouble finding new and professional workers, so they have to resort to rehiring previous employees. This lack of communication between villages results in the workers obtaining contrasting wages for comparatively similar agricultural work. Therefore, the SMS app is necessary to enhance the networking of employers and workers.

The SMS app in Tanzania is accessible because about 93% of the Tanzanian population owns quality phones, and 84% are highly literate. The app lowers the cost of job searching, makes wage rates more comparable and announces available jobs to instantly connect employees with employers. This networking expands the possibilities for employers and employees, especially in Tanzania’s agricultural industry.

– Shalman Ahmed
Photo: Flickr

Viamo’s ServicesOver the last two decades, cellphone ownership has steadily increased, with 73% of the world having mobile broadband connections in 2020. In response to this trend, a group of Canadian and Ghanaian engineers founded Viamo in 2012. Viamo is a social enterprise that uses mobile technology to distribute educational materials and compile data. Operating in more than 20 African and Asian countries, Viamo reaches millions of people a year. Over its eight-year existence, Viamo’s services have diversified thanks to partnerships with more than 500 organizations.

The 3-2-1 Service

This toll-free service offers educational content and interactive training through interactive voice response (IVR). IVR is an automated system that communicates with the listener through prerecorded or synthetic speech, thus removing the need for literacy. Furthermore, Viamo translates all content into local languages so it can reach the largest number of people.

Many of the partner projects that Viamo undertakes end up on the 3-2-1 Service once completed. For example, Viamo’s partnership with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to create Link It, a mobile service meant to connect farmers to markets in Nepal, saw the finished product integrated into the 3-2-1 Service platform.

Another example comes from Mozambique, where Viamo partnered with a coalition of groups including Chemonics and USAID to create a storm warning system. This system has been a part of Mozambique’s 3-2-1 Service since its creation in 2016.

Besides these, Viamo’s services through 3-2-1 include audio dramas, news and children’s educational programs.

The diversity of the 3-2-1 Service has garnered it more users than Facebook in some countries, with thousands of people utilizing it at any point in the day.

Wanji Games

With the help of Viamo, Peripheral Vision International established Wanji Games. These edutainment games feature branching path narratives, where listeners role play scenarios ranging from navigating gender-based violence (GBV) to managing money. By exploring a scenario’s different endings, the player can gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter to apply it to their lives. Since these are accessible via the 3-2-1 Service, these games are free to play.

Engagement Campaigns

Viamo helps its partner organizations transmit information to the general population through its comprehensive mass messaging system combining IVR, chatbots, SMS, mobile apps and social media. For example, in the past, Viamo had remotely trained Rwandan healthcare workers on mental health using IVR.

Surveys, Polls and Call Centers

Viamo’s relationship with network operators grants it the benefit of having access to customers’ demographic information. As such, Viamo can distribute surveys and polls to achieve a sample representative of the general population. Furthermore, since network operators disclose a customer’s geographical location to Viamo, it can map the results.

Due to the conflict in South Sudan, the government has prohibited journalists from reporting in the country. To bypass this issue, Viamo and Forced Out created a phone survey to measure the displaced population in South Sudan. The survey found that the war had displaced more than 40% of the nation’s population. This provided the international community with statistics to properly gauge the scope of the refugee crisis.

Viamo also has a variety of call centers integrated into the 3-2-1 Service. One instance of this is Legal Aid Forum Rwanda. Victims can call the call center to get legal advice and possibly get connected to a lawyer who could represent them for free.

Viamo’s Reach and Future Impact

Viamo’s services have reached more than 10 million people. With plans to expand into new areas, such as Latin America, Viamo will continue to have an impact in the foreseeable future.

– Riley Behlke
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Apps in Sub-Saharan Africa
Although sub-Saharan Africa accounts for nearly 11% of the world’s population, it carries approximately 24% of the global disease burden. The region spends less than 1% on global health expenditure and lacks a strong infrastructure to address its citizens’ healthcare necessities.

Advancements in technology may be the solution to this crisis. The mobile industry in sub-Saharan Africa is growing rapidly. In 2012, only 32% of the population had access to a mobile subscription. By 2018, the mobile industry saw a 12% increase in mobile penetration rates. As a result, innovative healthcare apps are being released on the market, allowing individuals to access medical services remotely. This article will focus on three innovative healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa that can be accessed through a mobile device.

Hello Doctor: Providing Remote Medical Assistance

Hello Doctor is a mobile healthcare app that was developed in South Africa. It is currently one of the most popular mobile healthcare apps on the market and is available in 10 different countries. The app allows patients to have healthcare that is accessible, affordable and personalized.

The app requires a subscription of $3 per month. It allows a subscriber to “carry a doctor in their pocket.” After filing a request, subscribers are connected with a doctor via text message or phone call. All requests are responded to within an hour. All doctors accessed through the application are registered medical professionals.

The app also has a symptom checker in which patients can note their concerns and are provided with a list of potential diagnoses. It is also updated daily with new content to provide fundamental healthcare advice to patients. This app is most beneficial to citizens who may not be able to easily travel to their nearest healthcare clinic.

Pelebox: Delivering Essential Medication

Communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDs remain a growing problem in sub-Saharan Africa. These chronic diseases must be treated with medication that is picked up from the clinic. However, the limited number of clinics, a shortage of healthcare professionals and a high patient volume create excessive wait times for patients.

Pelebox, a South African app, manages smart lockers that dispense refills of prescriptions to patients. Instead of waiting hours to be seen in the clinic, patients can retrieve their prescriptions within a matter of seconds. Pelebox’s goal is to reduce the burden on hospital staff so that they can focus their attention on patients in critical care.

Here is how the app works. The patient is enrolled in the clinic’s collection program, the prescription is issued and the medication is placed into the locker. Clients will receive a one-time-pin via text message from the system. Patients enter their phone number and PIN at the self-service interface and retrieve their prescriptions from the cubicle. The cubicle is accessible at any time. Through its innovative approach in delivering essential medication, Pelebox has reached approximately 3,000 patients. The company is also planning to set up an additional 30 units in the next five years to continue to expand its reach.

MedAfrica: An All-in-One Healthcare App

MedAfrica, a product of Shimba Mobile, is one of the most popular healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa. It was first launched in Kenya in November 2011. By March 2012, it had approximately 70,000 users and was released into several other countries.

The app was created to make healthcare more accessible, affordable and safer. The app is free to use and works on any operating system. It is an all-in-one healthcare app that has various features. It provides users with a directory of qualified doctors and hospitals that are nearby. It also has a symptom checker available to its users so they can decide whether they’d like to pursue further medical advice or treatment. After the diagnosis, they can easily connect with the proper specialist. Users also receive first-aid advice and health updates from local hospitals.

Advancements in Healthcare Through Apps

An underfunded infrastructure, shortage of medical professionals and high patient volumes make for a fragile healthcare system. The surge of healthcare apps in sub-Saharan Africa is a great start to combating these issues. The innovative technologies that are being released for consumer use may be the key to granting much-needed healthcare access to individuals who need it the most.

Jasmine Daniel
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare Apps
The relationship between phones and medical care evolved rapidly with the rise of smartphones. Not only do people now have an effective means of communication at their fingertips, but they also have information and, lately, an increasing number of medical tools as well. Here are ten health care apps making a significant impact in developing countries.

10 Health Care Apps in Developing Countries

  1. Peek: Peek has its sights set on helping people with vision impairment issues and blindness, a problem exacerbated in developing countries by a lack of resources. Peek can identify people with vision problems and work with health care providers to pinpoint an economically feasible way to supply the treatment they need. Currently, the International Centre for Eye Health uses Peek at the London School of Hygiene. Tropical Medicine is also administering a population-based survey of blindness and visual impairments in Cambodia.
  2. SASAdoctor: SASAdoctor is making health care consultations more accessible in Kenya, where only 12% of the population is insured. The app is available to all Kenyans with an Android smartphone or tablet (65% of the population). For the uninsured, using SASAdoctor is cheaper than an in-person consultation, bringing costs down to the equivalent of $4.66. Patients have their medical history, list of medications and other medical notes in the app. This ensures that the consulting professionals will have the information they need to create an informed medical opinion. A projected 80% of Kenyans will have smartphones in the next few years, making the app increasingly beneficial.
  3. iWander: The purpose of iWander is to help keep track of dementia patients. Set with tracking technology that can be discretely worn by the patient, the app gives users more control over the care of loved ones, which can be vital in countries where health care may be less accessible. By helping families be proactive to crises, iWander can help cut costs, as home care for dementia patients is often expensive.
  4. Kenek O2: Kenek O2 allows the user to monitor their oxygen levels and heart rate while they sleep. Built for iPhones, the app also requires a pulse oximeter which connects to the phone. Together, the cost for these two items is around $100. In contrast, a regular hospital oximeter and similar products could cost upward of $500. Having been used effectively in North America, South America, Asia and Africa, Kenek O2 is currently working on developing a special COVID-19 device to watch for early signs of hypoxia, or the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissues.
  5. First Derm: First Derm also requires a smartphone-connected device called a dermatoscope. This enables patients to take detailed pictures of skin conditions for effective teleconsultations. In places where patients have little access to health care facilities, this makes getting a second medical opinion much easier. So far, First Derm has helped in more than 15,000 users from Sweden, Chile, China, Australia and Ghana. Of these, 70% could be treated without a doctor, most often by over-the-counter treatments available at local pharmacies.
  6. Ada: Functioning as a personal health assistant, Ada provides medical advice to users who input their symptoms. The app is intended to assist those who don’t have the means to seek an in-person consultation right away. Currently, 10 million people around the world are using Ada for symptom evaluation.
  7. Babylon: Another app that’s intended to mitigate the obstacle of going to see a doctor in person, Babylon allows users to input their symptoms. The app specializes in non-emergent medicine, allowing patients to skip a trip to the doctor’s office entirely if their condition allows it. This is beneficial in places where doctors are sparse, or the patient lacks the financial means to get to the hospital. Babylon caters to users across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Rwanda and several countries across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The goal is to expand to even more countries in the coming years.
  8. MobiSante: When connected to its ultrasound device, MobiSante provides quality diagnostic imaging. The ultrasound is then sent directly to the patient, enabling them to receive health care outside the confines of a hospital or clinic. The app brings more holistic and informed treatments to people who may have previously struggled in finding a place with the proper resources to diagnose them.
  9. Go.Data: Go.Data is a tool released by the WHO specifically for collecting data during global health emergencies. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, Go.Data, praised for tracing points of contact, also tracked infection trends and helped in arranging post-contact follow up.
  10. Mobile Midwife: A digital charting app that stores information in the cloud, Mobile Midwife ensures midwives have access to pertinent patient information. Mobile Midwife is designed to function even where an internet connection isn’t reliable. It is beneficial in areas with high mother and infant mortality, helping health providers give high-quality care.

Bridging health care with smartphone apps isn’t a perfect solution, as it often comes with accessibility issues of its own. However, these apps can help people connect virtually with medical professionals, increasing access to health care and often reducing costs. The result is a more equal distribution of power between the health care system and the patient, empowering a healthier (and more health-conscious) population.

Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr

Apps that aid in healthcare in developing countries It can sometimes be difficult for people in developing countries to access healthcare, specifically those living in poverty. In order to address this problem, healthcare apps are being used to provide greater access. Here are 10 healthcare aid apps that are impacting access in developing countries.

10 Apps That Aid Healthcare in Developing Countries

  1. Peek has its sights set on helping people with vision impairment issues and blindness, a problem exacerbated in developing countries by a lack of resources. Peek can identify people with vision problems. The app then works with healthcare providers to pinpoint an economically feasible way to supply the treatment they need, before allocating the appropriate resources. Currently, Peek is being used by the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is administering a population-based survey of blindness and visual impairments in Cambodia.
  2. SASAdoctor focuses on making healthcare consultations more accessible in Kenya. In the country, only 12% of people are insured. About 8 million are reliant on the National Hospital Insurance Fund, leaving 35 million Kenyans uninsured. Available to all Kenyans with an Android smartphone or tablet (65% of Kenyans have one), SASAdoctor decreases the cost of an in-person consultation for the uninsured and makes it free for those with insurance. Patients will have their medical history, list of medications and other such medical notes in their ‘file’ on the app, so that whoever tele-consults with them will have the information they need to create an informed medical opinion. SASAdoctor can decrease the cost of uninsured visits with a doctor to Kes 495 (the equivalent of $4.66) for a projected 80% of Kenyans who are predicted to have smartphones in the next few years.
  3. iWander allows people to keep track of Alzheimer’s patients. Set with tracking technology that can be discretely worn by the patient, it offers whoever uses the app several options on how to deal with situations involving the patient. Solutions can range from a group calling session to making an emergency medical call or summoning a caregiver. iWander gives families more control over the care of a loved one, which can have a positive impact in countries where healthcare may be less accessible. In the US, the average cost of care for a single person is $174,000 annually. About 7 out of 10 individuals with dementia remain at home to receive care, where 75% of the costs fall to the family to pay. In helping families be proactive instead of reactive to crises, iWander can help in cutting these costs, especially in poorer countries, where many families are struggling to keep up with the high costs of at-home care.
  4. Kenek O2 allows the user to monitor their oxygen and heart rate while they sleep. Kenek O2, built for the iPhone, also requires a pulse oximeter which connects to the phone and retrieves the data to be stored in the app. Together, the cost for these two items is around $100, compared to the price of a regular hospital oximeter and other similar products, which could easily cost more than $500. Having effectively been used in North America, South America, Asia and Africa, Kenek O2 is currently working on developing a special COVID-19 device to watch for early signs of hypoxia, or the deficiency of oxygen reaching tissues.
  5. First Derm is an app that requires a smartphone-connected device, called a dermatoscope. This allows detailed pictures to be taken of skin conditions and lesions to better allow for remote, teleconsultations. In places where doctors are few and far between, and public transport is less reliable, this can make getting a second medical opinion much easier. So far, First Derm has helped in more than 15,000 cases from Sweden, Chile, China, Australia and Ghana, ranging from ages of just 3 days old to 98 years. Of these cases, 70% could be treated without a doctor, most often by over-the-counter treatments available at local pharmacies.
  6. Ada takes user-input symptoms and provides appropriate measures to take as a result, like a personal health assistant. It’s intended to assist those who don’t have the means to seek an in-person consultation right away. The app has been released in several languages, which makes it more accessible. Currently, 10 million people around the world are using Ada for symptom evaluation.
  7. Babylon is intended to mitigate the obstacle of going to see a doctor in person by allowing users to input symptoms or solve common health problems via teleconsultation with a doctor. Babylon specializes in non-emergent medicine, allowing patients to skip a trip to the doctor’s office entirely if their condition allows it. This is beneficial in places where doctors are sparse, or the patient lacks the financial means or a method of transportation in getting to the hospital. Babylon caters to users across the U.S., U.K., Canada, Rwanda and several countries across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The app aims to expand to more countries in the upcoming years.
  8. MobiSante, through its ultrasound device, allows versatility in diagnostic imaging by bringing the ultrasound to the patient. This allows quality, diagnostic imaging to be done outside the confines of a hospital or clinic. As a result, it provides more holistic and informed treatment where people may need it most but have previously struggled in accessing a healthcare center with the necessary technology. While having a computer at home with a desk is much less common in developing countries, the world’s increasing reliance on the internet is shifting the status of internet technology from a luxury to a basic necessity. This means that technology such as smartphones are becoming somewhat of a necessity in impoverished countries, making an app like MobiSante effective in using smartphones to make diagnostic imaging more accessible.
  9. Go.Data is a tool released by the WHO. It is specifically for collecting data during global health emergencies. During the Ebola outbreak in Africa, Go.Data was praised for tracing points of contact. The app also tracked infection trends and helped in arranging post-contact follow up.
  10. Mobile Midwife is a digital charting app that stores information in a cloud so that healthcare workers have access to all pertinent patient information. It works even in cases of power outages, or home births where internet connection may be less reliable. This app can help in areas where mother and infant mortality is higher, ensuring that healthcare providers can efficiently access patient information to ensure the best care. It can also cut the extra time it takes to find records that could otherwise make procedures more dangerous for both mother and child.

Bridging healthcare accessibility with smartphone apps isn’t a perfect solution, as it comes with accessibility issues of its own. However, these healthcare aid apps can help people without insurance, or who are physically unable to visit a physician, access health consultations. As a result, more people are provided access to healthcare, empowering a healthier (and more health-conscious) population.

– Catherine Lin
Photo: Flickr