According to a 2021 report by the Africa Health Agenda International Conference Commission, only about 52% of people in Africa have access to essential health services. Furthermore, annually, 97 million individuals in Africa, equating to 8.2% of Africa’s population, bear the burden of “catastrophic healthcare costs.” Each year, about 15 million individuals may fall into circumstances of poverty as a consequence of these out-of-pocket health care costs, the report says. In particular, five startups are committed to improving health in Africa.
5 Startups that are Improving Health in Africa
- ApiAfrique. Marina Gning and Jeanne-Aurélie Delaunay began the ApiNapi startup in France in 2020. The startup focused on zero waste and making reusable nappies. Later Marianne Varale, a creator of reusable hygiene products, joined the team. After visiting Senegal with her husband, Gning realized that ApiNapi’s products suit the needs of the Senegalese population. In 2016, she and her husband moved to Senegal and ApiAfrique was born. The startup now produces menstrual hygiene products and baby hygiene supplies that reduce waste and protect health. Also, ApiAfrique creates safe and just working conditions for women. The startup has reduced waste by 4,549 tons, prevented the purchase of 53 million unsustainable disposable napkins and diapers and established 28 job opportunities.
- Afia Pharma. This Rwanda-based licensed online pharmacy sells medication at a cheaper price and delivers it to patients’ homes. Its main goal is to make quality medications both accessible and affordable for people all across Africa. By using Afia Pharma, a person can save up to 20% on medications and other products. It also offers a pill reminder service and provides a large selection of more than 4,000 medical products. Afia Pharma provides private advice from a trained pharmacist about sensitive issues like HIV, vaginal discharge, erectile dysfunction and more. The pharmacy runs 24/7 and customers can order medication via WhatsApp, email, website or phone.
- MaiSoin. Based in Côte d’Ivoire, MaiSon provides a web and mobile-based platform that simplifies the interaction between patients and health care professionals while gathering information to enhance decision-making and the efficiency of public health interventions. Dédé Zeinabou Cissé, an expert in public health, and her partner, Mario Romero, established the startup. The co-founders have a combined 15 years of experience in undertaking community-based public health projects for NGOs around the world. During this time, they recognized a problem across health clinics in Africa — patients cannot book appointments. Instead, patients have to come to the clinic at a certain time and wait in line for hours, which deters people from visiting medical centers. MaiSoin allows people to book an appointment with a skilled health professional in Abidjan without having to spend hours in a waiting room. MaiSoin’s goal is to eliminate obstacles and increase peoples’ access to health care.
- Urukundo Initiative. The Urukundo (“love” in Kinyarwanda) Initiative is a social company that a team of four young individuals with medical backgrounds created in 2019. The team created Rwanda’s first licensed evidence-based health education board game that helps initiate a conversation about sexual and reproductive health with young people. The game focuses on educating the younger generation on teen pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. The game can be played in school or at home if parents wish to educate their kids about sexual and reproductive health without fear of embarrassment. The startup also has a Urukundo Board Game Center in Kigali, Rwanda, where anyone can play the game and get advice about sexual/reproductive health.
- OPISMS. This startup is located in Côte d’Ivoire, established by four co-founders in 2012. It is an online tool that keeps track of vaccinations and sends out notifications for future vaccinations. Parents and medical professionals can easily verify and monitor vaccine administrations with the help of the electronic vaccination record. Also, users who sign up for the program can also get voicemail and SMS reminders. To sum it all up, the platform strives to improve mother and child health care and decrease childhood disease-related mortality.
These startups are committed to improving health in Africa through creativity, technology and innovation. Their continued work should only enhance the quality of health in Africa going forward.
– Elizaveta Medvedkina