In 2015, a quarter of the global disease cases existed in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Yet, only 3% of the world’s doctors reside in this region. Access to health care is crucial in maintaining a functioning society. Aviro Health, a company based in Cape Town, South Africa, is extending accessible health care and information to patients across the country while improving treatment options and the overall health of sub-Saharan Africans.
Health Care in South Africa
There are more than 600 hospitals in South Africa, including the third-largest globally, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which holds 3,400 beds and 6,760 staff members. Around 400 of these hospitals are public and the remaining 200 are private. Public health care is available to all people living in South Africa “regardless of nationality or immigration status.”
Many people face challenges when physically traveling to medical centers despite their availability. According to the World Bank, only one-third of those living in rural areas of Africa reside within two kilometers of adequately paved road systems. Technological advancements that allow health care practitioners to virtually conduct appointments would greatly benefit those in desperate need of health care.
About Aviro Health
Aviro Health in South Africa began in 2012. It is a technology company based in Cape Town that develops digital innovations that assist both health care practitioners and patients. The established vision of the company has stated that “We see a world in which everyone gets medical information and healthcare that is accessible, efficient, and delivered with empathy and understanding.”
Aviro staff members aim to provide services through technology, which would allow those who encounter difficulties traveling to medical centers in person to still receive information and treatment. Medical practitioners receive further training in the form of e-books and videos and patients can learn more about testing and diagnoses through e-learning. Technology benefits that Aviro Health in South Africa developed are also available to health care professionals in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Since its foundation, Aviro has assisted more than 50,000 users in accessing medical services.
The Pocket Clinic
A significant technological innovation developed by Aviro Health in South Africa is the Aviro mobile Pocket Clinic. This innovation is a digital counseling service used by health professionals in both the private and public sectors in South Africa. The Pocket Clinic allows medical counseling through mobile phones or other technological devices. Patients can manage their health care digitally while also connecting to health care providers.
The service provides users with a medical content plan based on their medical tests that users can receive via the web, the platform app or Whatsapp. The Pocket Clinic can also connect patients to other health experts and services that could provide hands-on treatment. The Pocket Clinic serves as a life-changing tool that the medical field can use to assist health care practitioners and patients in delivering and efficiently receiving care. The Aurum Institute partnered with Johns Hopkins University offering self-HIV tests in the lobbies of health care centers “supported by the Aviro Pocket Clinic on tablets.” This led to a “40% increase in testing” along with an 80% increase in HIV treatment uptake.
South Africa is home to the world’s largest HIV treatment initiative. Yet, as of 2021, South Africa noted 7.8 million HIV cases, with only 4 million people receiving treatment in the country. In the age of COVID-19, many people find it difficult to travel to medical facilities to receive testing and treatment.
Fortunately, the Pocket Clinic offers self-tests for patients without requiring the presence of a health care professional. This method also promotes increased patient privacy. A soft launch of self-HIV tests by Aviro Health in South Africa generated positive results. In Kwazulu-Natal, 7.5% of service users tested positive for HIV and began ARV treatment in contrast with only 2.5% in conventional clinical-based testing.
Pocket Clinic also connects those who test positive to an HIV hotline. In the next five years, Aviro Health anticipates making self-tests available to 10 million people in the sub-Saharan region.
A Future of Health
Technological advancements in health care that Aviro Health in South Africa developed improve overall health in the country. Innovations that individuals can access virtually will provide better testing and treatment for patients across the nation.
– Megan Quinn