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Friday, February 26, 2016

Africa and the rise of ‘doctors on demand’

Vincent Matinde, an international IT Journalist summarizes, "The doctor-patient ratio in most African countries is very worrying. According to the latest World Health Organization statistics, Sub-Saharan Africa has an average ratio of one physician to every 1000 people."

Photo: IDG Connect

African countries including Uganda and Kenya, have in the past complained that they are dealing with a brain drain in the medical industry. While citizens, especially in rural areas have to contend with long treks and queues to get medical attention.

Now new technologies have been built around healthcare that are working to improve the situation for ordinary Africans. Totohealth, that we covered previously, helps new mothers to get maternal information through text messages. Since our coverage the company has raised US$140,000, a fact which underlines the need of such services.

Babylon, a UK company that has made international headlines, enables users to get ‘doctors on demand’ through mobile apps. The company said that they are planning to launch their services in Africa where access to medical services is a challenge.

This service connects users to doctors via a simple query and facilitates the action using smartphone-app enabled video conferencing.

In last year’s Transform Africa conference in Kigali, Rwanda, Tracey McNeil, the Chief Clinical Operations Officer at Babylon, said that they are creating an app that would be able to work in Africa for feature phones...

According to Owusu there is still a lot of room for mobile medical services to innovate as the continent gains access to internet and broadband services.

His idea is to make use of data they gather to help doctors and medical workers create a repository of insights into new trends.

Such on demand services have taken over the world including companies such as Jumia, Uber, Airbnb and Netflix. Owusu thinks that this is the way forward for African entrepreneurs.

“It is very important that we, as Africans, utilise on demand services like Bisa. The ratio of a doctor to a patient right now [is so low] so instead of joining a long queue to ask a simple health related question, you can do so at the comfort of your home via Bisa.

“E-Commerce is another example of how people are cutting their transportation cost by just staying home and making purchases online. I think on demand is here to make our lives much easy in Africa,” he concludes.

Source: IDG Connect

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