Blog

Partnership venture: Insurance for All

November 16 2017

Market opportunity

Only 17 per cent of all Kenyans are covered by health insurance and coverage of the poorest quintile remains extremely low at 2.9 per cent. Informal sector workers are particularly unlikely to buy health insurance, mainly because of cost and complicated registration procedures. There is thus a great need to provide appropriate low-cost insurance products that this segment can easily access.

The pilot venture

IFA has designed a unique micro-health insurance product (AfyaPoa) that takes care of both inpatient and outpatient needs. The product will go beyond just financing healthcare by ensuring that health insurance clients and medical service providers have easy access to quality and affordable care through the offering of telemedicine services. The project seeks to upgrade IFA's existing health-insurance management software to include a mobile app to facilitate telemedicine activities allowing members to interact directly with a doctor either through a live SMS chat or a voice call. An updated Hospital Management Information System will allow the capture and maintenance of more comprehensive electronic medical records (EMR) for patients.

Partnership details

Country

Company in-country

Kenya

Insurance for All

Partner(s) in India

AOSTA

Sector

Health

Connect Partnership

Elodie Brandamir

Manager

info@connecttogrow.org

Company contact

John Paul Otieno jpotieno@ifakenya.co.ke

The partnership

IFA was incorporated in Kenya in 2014 and is focused on serving the needs of workers in the informal sector. It specialises in the design and distribution of various micro insurance products for the mass market. AOSTA was founded in India in 1999 by a team of doctors and visionaries in the healthcare business to create world class hospital management systems and other healthcare solutions that would improve healthcare delivery and enhance care to patients. Today, AOSTA is a leading healthcare brand with a special focus on services like cloud enabled HIS platforms, telemedicine systems etc.

The parties have agreed a one-year partnership where AOSTA is a technical partner to IFA. The long-term vision of the partners is to jointly form a technology company that will continuously innovate around the AfyaPoa product allowing for more efficient processes and a more pleasant and satisfying user experience. It is the partners’ joint intention to grow the company’s operations beyond Kenya into other African countries.

Innovation

The pilot innovation is the introduction of digital innovation, telemedicine and a Health Management Information system, to the micro-health insurance market in Kenya, reaching out to the poorly served Jua Kali (informal business) community.

Development impact

By providing health insurance to the poorest communities through the provision of affordable ealth care,the pilot aims to fill a gap in access to care and the inequitable distribution of medical personnel and facilities.

How is Connect to Grow supporting this venture?

A grant of up to $40,000: This is to support Insurance For All in partnership activities.

Technical Assistance: May be drawn upon in areas relating to e-technology.

Partnership Manager: A member of the Connect to Grow team supports throughout the pilot, working to monitor the pilot activities, troubleshoot problems, and broker suitable solutions with the Indian partners.

 

MATIBABU WINS TOP PRIZE AT THE ASME ISHOW

June 05 2017

Earlier this month, ASME released the top 10 finalists for its IShow Kenya competition which Matibabu, a non invasive device used to test for malaria was among.

Matibabu has been announced as the winner of the competition winning the top prize of $10,000.

Matibabu, a flagship product from thinkIT Limited a software development company in Uganda focusing on development & research of e-health applications is in the process of releasing its 5th generation prototype.

Science Set from Ghana & Sign IO from Tanzania were the runners up respectively.

Winners become part of the ISHOW alumni network, a global community of hardware innovators with exclusive access to experts and resources.

  • The ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) is a global competition for hardware-led ventures. they focus on the design & engineering journey of taking physical products to market. They care about “social innovation,” that is, solving social and environmental issues through enterprise. They believe a focus on users and customers ensures sustainable and scalable solutions. This is a global network of engineers, makers, dreamers, designers, investors and entrepreneurs.

India’s Villgro launches healthcare incubator in Kenya

February 10 2017

The India-based Villgro Innovations Foundation has launched an incubator for early-stage businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sector in Nairobi, Kenya.

In India, Villgro works with early-stage for-profit social enterprises that have an impact on the lives of the poor, incubating companies in sectors such as education, health, energy and agriculture.

Villgro Kenya is a health-focused incubator set up in partnership with the Lemelson Foundation. It will offer mentoring, funding and access to networks to companies with products that can disrupt the status quo in the healthcare space and can scale to other regions.

“After initial research, we saw the need in the health sector and in the incubation of health startups, with the potential to have the maximum impact,” Aditi Seshadri, head of communications at Villgro Innovations Foundation, told Disrupt Africa.

“Replicating many of Villgro’s learnings and knowledge over a period of time, Villgro Kenya will run a longer incubation programme offering companies close mentoring support and other services to help their businesses scale.”

Seshadri said Villgro sees plenty of potential for more South-South collaboration, particularly in Kenya, which is similar to India in that it has social problems but a stable political climate and an entrepreneurial culture. Kenyan healthcare startups can apply for incubation here.

Villgro supports companies with seed funding, high-touch mentoring with an experienced senior advisor and networks. Since 2001, it has helped 119 entrepreneurs create more than 4,000 jobs.

It is expanding into Kenya in partnership with USAID’s Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative.

“This partnership combines the knowledge and implementation of Villgro with the expertise and networks of PACE, and will help catalyse the implementation of what has been a highly effective approach by Villgro in India into Villgro Kenya,” said Seshadri.

Johnson and Johnson Call

December 22 2016

Johnson & Johnson Announces Launch of Africa Innovation Challenge to Support Continent's Entrepreneurs and Develop Local Consumer Health Solutions

Challenge Reflects Company's Comprehensive Approach to Advancing Health and Innovation on the Continent

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, Nov. 1, 2016 - As part of its longstanding commitment to Africa, Johnson & Johnson today announced the launch of the Africa Innovation Challenge, an initiative to support Africa’s vibrant and growing innovation ecosystem and to help develop important and locally sustainable consumer health solutions. The challenge is the latest initiative in the company's comprehensive approach to advancing health and innovation worldwide. The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companie's presence in Africa dates back more than 80 years and includes business operations, public health programs and corporate citizenship.

"Through the Africa Innovation Challenge, we have the opportunity to support the continent's top entrepreneurs through mentorship and other resources, and by working together with local talent, to bring forward new solutions to local healthcare challenges," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson.

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson announced its global public health (GPH) strategy in Cape Town, South Africa, where its companies also opened their GPH operations headquarters. The operations expand upon the company's legacy and presence in Africa, which began in 1936, and brings additional investments to the more than 1,500 employees and three manufacturing sites within the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies already present on the continent.

"Our goal is to improve the health and well-being of families and communities around the world," said Josh Ghaim, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. "With its focus on consumer healthcare, the Africa Innovation Challenge will help to surface important issues impacting local communities. We look forward to engaging with the continent’s top entrepreneurs and scientists, and through collaboration, helping advance their ideas and bringing meaningful solutions across three very important healthcare areas."

The Africa Innovation Challenge seeks novel ideas that focus on three critical health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family well-being. Challenge participant(s) with the best solutions will receive up to US $100,000 in funding and mentorship from scientists, engineers and researchers in the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Research & Development organization.

"The Africa Innovation Challenge is an exciting initiative for our entrepreneurial and scientific communities,” said Thomas Maina Kariuki, Ph.D., Director, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, African Academy of Sciences (AAS). “The challenge provides the kind of mentorship and resources that can really advance an entrepreneur’s vision, and it showcases the terrific young talent across Africa. AAS is proud to support this initiative and we look forward to collaborating throughout the challenge."

The winner(s) of the challenge could also receive dedicated space at a lab facility in Africa throughout their product or service development, dependent on the needs of the solution submission. Award recipients will be announced in February 2017.

Challenge submissions may originate from anywhere in Africa, and from one or more individuals, teams or companies; subject to certain eligibility requirements set out in the terms and conditions for the challenge. Solutions will be evaluated based on their ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Solution submission addresses at least one of the three challenge categories: Promoting Early Child Development & Maternal Health in Africa; Empowering Young Girls in Africa; Improving Family Well-being in Africa
  • Submission is innovative and creative
  • Submission is scalable
  • Submission outlines a commercialization plan and how the award would help the applicant reach a critical milestone within the timeframe of a single year

To apply to the challenge and review the applicable terms and conditions, please visit the Africa Innovation Challenge website. The deadline to submit applications is January 17, 2017. Neither Johnson & Johnson nor any of its companies is granted any rights to applicant ideas as a result of their participation in the challenge. Applicants and winners remain free to continue the further development of their ideas on their own.

About Johnson & Johnson
Caring for the world, one person at a time, inspires and unites the people of Johnson & Johnson. We embrace research and science - bringing innovative ideas, products and services to advance the health and well-being of people. Our approximately 126,900 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson operating companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world. # # #

PRESS CONTACTS:
Africa Media Contact
Laura Nel
+27 83 357 8938
lnel@its.jnj.com

United States Media Contact
Toneisha Friday
1-(908) 938-9146
tfriday3@its.jnj.com

 

 

KENIA Call

December 22 2016

NATIONAL INNOVATION AWARDS COMPETITION - 2016

The Kenya National Innovation Agency (KENIA) is a statutory body established under the Science, Technology and Innovation Act, No. 28 of 2013. The Agency is mandated to develop and manage the National Innovation System

KENIA announces National Innovation Award Competition – 2016 as a strategy to motivate and recognize outstanding innovators in Kenya. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovation in all national priority areas and thus strengthen national innovative capacity. The award will focus in Key priority areas of the economy, namely: Agriculture and Natural resources; Energy and Manufacturing; Health, Water and Sanitation; and Information Communication Technology.

The categories and cash awards are as follows:

A. Agriculture and Natural Resources Category
i. Winner: KES 1,000,000/=
ii. 1st Runner-up: KES 500,000/=

B. Health, Water and Sanitation Category
i. Winner: KES 1,000,000/=
ii. 1st Runner-up: KES 500,000/=

C. Energy and Manufacturing Category 
i. Winner: KES 1,000,000/=
ii. 1st Runner-up: KES 500,000/=

D. Information Communication Technology Category
i. Winner: KES 1,000,000/=
ii. 1st Runner-up: KES 500,000/=

Interested innovators should download the application forms from: www.innovationagency.go.ke or http://www.education.go.ke. Hard copies of duly filled application forms should be submitted to KENIA offices at Utalii House, 9th floor (Room 929). Soft copies of the same should be emailed to: info@innovationagency.go.ke on or before 500 p.m., 23rd December, 2016.

Grand Challenges Africa Call

December 22 2016

GRAND CHALLENGES AFRICA – INNOVATION SEED GRANTS – Round 1

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Call Release date: 17th November 2016

Call Closure date: 17th February 2017

Challenge 1: Providing new impetus and solutions to meet the Sustainable Development Goal 3 targets for maternal neonatal and child health (MNCH) in Africa The Opportunity
While great strides have been made in reducing mortality in Africa, maternal and neonatal mortality rates remain unacceptably high. Estimates show that over half the global maternal deaths and over three-quarters of neonatal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa[1, 2]. More than half of maternal deaths are directly or indirectly attributed to infectious causes such as HIV, Malaria in pregnancy, sepsis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) resulting in complications at birth that often lead to death. In addition, undiagnosed and untreated non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are significant contributors to acute maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality. The close relationship between mothers and their infants results in shared aetiologies and as a result, around half of new-born deaths are due to mother transmitted infections, including tetanus[3]. Management of these infections is further complicated by anti-microbial resistance(AMR). Critically, the risk of dying during the first day of life in Africa is close to 1% with the top three causes being infections, birth asphyxia and complications of preterm birth which together account for 88% of the new-born deaths[4]. In addition, intrapartum and antenatal stillbirths are found in almost equal numbers to neonatal deaths and many of these are due to readily preventable causes such as maternal infection (e.g. syphilis) and better labour management to prevent neonatal asphyxia. Effective interventions to help reduce this mortality would target management of labour and delivery, still births, preterm births, timely diagnosis and treatment of infectious and non-communicable diseases, while also addressing malnutrition in both mothers and children.

Program Goal
This call is focused on the SDG3 targets with the overall objective of focusing African scientists to work in local and global partnerships on the ambitious but achievable goals of accelerating knowledge generation, developing and deploying interventions and innovations that will advance the prevention of maternal deaths, preterm birth and neonatal deaths and improve implementation of policies and innovations that will improve care for the mother and child in the first month of life and prevent death due to non-communicable causes in pregnant women and children under 5 years of age . The goal of this challenge is to determine what precise packages of interventions should be delivered to which group of individuals (mother or infant or both) to reduce the burden of maternal and neonatal deaths in Africa.

Program Objectives
We are looking for projects that: 1. Apply new technologies to enable rapid identification of exposures (communicable and non-communicable) that lead to poor outcomes in pregnancy, birth and in the first month of life. 2. Apply precision medicine approaches and techniques to identify microbes and other exposures in Africa that may increase susceptibility to non-communicable diseases (cancer, cardiovascular diseases etc.) in mothers and children under 5 years of age. 3. Provide innovative policy and clinical practice approaches and pathways that will enable the rapid and widespread adoption of:
  • Available well tested interventions whose uptake has been slow, but which would make profound impact if adopted and incorporated into ongoing MNCH programmes;
  • New innovations and technologies that can help Africa leapfrog and achieve rapid progress, in preventing maternal and neonatal deaths.
What we are looking for:
To reach these objectives, we are looking for projects that propose innovation in the following areas:
  • Measurement tools: Pilot tests of new measurement tools, such as those based on a new technology or new biomarkers to enable the timely diagnosis and treatment of maternal/neonatal infections and NCDs that can lead to significant improvement of fetal and neonatal outcomes as well as prevent sill births, maternal mortality and morbidity.
  • Intervention packages: Tests of new interventions – especially combinations of interventions –that 1) develop a new human cohort with unique advantages over existing cohorts, such as the potential for developing a unique biorepository; or 2) add an activity, such as a prospective pilot trial of an intervention or new measurement tool, to ongoing work with a human cohort, including at sites of intervention trials and sites for public health surveillance
  • Analytical tools: Pilot tests of new analytical tools that use existing biorepositories or existing health and development databases for retrospective analysis
Examples of what we will consider funding:
  • Rapid diagnosis of infectious/microbial pathogens that lead to preterm births;
  • Relation between undiagnosed NCDs in pregnant women and complicated births and low birth weight;
  • Relation between long term exposure to microbes (pathogenic or non-pathogenic) and maternal and neonatal mortality;
  • Neonatal sepsis (ideally bacteria/virus specific and even with AMR patterns);
  • Common metabolic disruptors/predictors such as glucose, acidosis, electrolytes;
  • Predictors of occurrence and severity of encephalopathies in Africa;
  • Contributors to common problems that afford a treatment/prevention option like ABO/Rh blood typing, apnea/oxygen etc;
  • Measures of fetal and sickle hemoglobin;
  • Wearable sensors for Heart Rate /Respiratory Rate/BP/EEG/Temperature etc.;
  • Interventions that encourage high coverage of known effective interventions to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality such as tetanus vaccination, antibiotic therapy to treat infections in mothers, screening for diabetes and hypertension;
  • Systems approaches to identify predictors of poor outcome in mothers and babies to allow for targeted interventions;
  • Studies aimed at understanding vaginal and neonatal microbiomes in relation to the burden of preterm birth sequelae, stunted postnatal growth, and impaired cognitive development because of alterations to the neonatal microbiomes;
  • Relation between long- term treatment of chronic diseases such as HIV and poor neonatal outcome;
  • Studies to provide a better understanding of the specific causes of antenatal and/or intrapartum stillbirths.
Examples of policy topic areas that would be relevant include, but are not limited to:
  • Integration of MNCH into national health strategies;
  • Human rights based approaches to MNCH including related reproductive health issues;
  • Innovative approaches to mobilization of financial resources in support of MNCH programmes;
  • Human resource issues including training, task shifting, deployment, retention, accreditation of medical personnel working in MNCH areas etc.;
  • Better provision of essential health infrastructure, medicines and commodities, including specialized MNCH services and quality of service;
  • Approaches to data usage and evaluating progress in MNCH and related reproductive health areas;
  • Programs targeted at specifically addressing the prevention of stillbirths.
We will not consider funding for:
  • Basic research that does not provide a clear path to development and testing of prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies;
  • Projects without the potential to expand in scale to provide solutions to a greater number or diversity of people;
  • Projects lacking metrics to determine success or failure and to allow decisions about the appropriateness of follow-on/phase II funding;
  • Solutions that are only slight improvements over existing approaches e.g., replication of an approach in a new geography in the absence of added innovation;
  • Projects that cannot be implemented in LMIC countries in Africa;
  • Approaches that simply propose/reproduce what is already widely available, and which fail to address key barriers to implementation; or only seek to modify policies that are already in practice;
  • Proposals which could be well meaning but have the potential to enhance vulnerability, discrimination and marginalization of women and children;
  • Ideas and approaches whose implementation would be financially too demanding for low resource settings;
  • Policies and health management approaches that potentially could hinder widespread adoption of well proven technologies such as vaccine rollouts, screening opportunities, treatment compliance, especially those that target adolescent girls and young mothers;
  • Projects earmarking African Academy of Sciences funds for lobbying activity (e.g., attempts to influence legislation or legislative action) or efforts to influence political campaigns for public office.
References

1. Alkema, L., et al., Global, regional, and national levels and trends in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015, with scenario-based projections to 2030: a systematic analysis by the UN Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group. Lancet, 2016. 387(10017): p. 462-74.

2. Bhutta, Z.A., et al., Can available interventions end preventable deaths in mothers, newborn babies, and stillbirths, and at what cost? Lancet, 2014. 384(9940): p. 347-70.

3. Lawn, J.E., et al., Born too soon: accelerating actions for prevention and care of 15 million newborns born too soon. Reprod Health, 2013. 10 Suppl 1: p. S6.

4. Lawn, J.E., et al., Every Newborn: progress, priorities, and potential beyond survival. Lancet, 2014. 384(9938): p. 189-205.

Challenge 2: Finding cutting-edge approaches to advocacy and communication that will motivate citizens of Africa and African governments to support investments in scientific research development and innovation.

The Opportunity
In 1980, African leader's Lagos Plan of Action[1] called for countries to allocate at least 1% of gross domestic product (GDP) to Research and Development (R&D), to help spur the continent’s development. In 2005 the African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology (AMCOST) endorsed the Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action (CPA) [2], which re-emphasised the investment of 1% of GDP in R&D by the year 2010. The CPA was adopted by the Heads of State and Government in 2007 but to date very few African governments have increased their funding for R&D and only a handful are approaching the 1% target. Reports from the AU suggest that the lag is not primarily the result of limited funding, but of a lack of appreciation for the value of such investments. As a result, policy makers do not give R&D funding priority when developing annual budgets. To achieve targets set for SDG9 and ultimately targets set for MNCH in SDG3, African Governments’ must increase investments in science, technology and innovation.

Program Goal
We seek to find cutting-edge approaches to communication and advocacy of scientific research in Africa to increase Government investment in R&D for interventions that seek to reduce childhood mortality, improve maternal health, and combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other communicable and non-communicable diseases. The goal of this call is to ignite new ways of communicating the importance of investments in scientific research and development to motivate African governments and their citizens to support increased investments in scientific R&D from within the continent to complement, and eventually surpass, global/external investments.

What We are Looking For:
  • Proposals that deliver innovative ideas, and that show a compelling plan for how to communicate and sustain public engagement around the importance of science and technology investments led by Africa for Africa and with potential global applications;
  • Ideas and approaches that demonstrate both the progress made so far by African governments in support of Science Technology and Innovation (STI) and the potential of broad local and external partnerships, and which debunk cynical views about the lack of interest by African governments to invest in Science and Technology and which convince, incentivize and steward African governments to dedicate substantial annual budgets to support Science and Technology programmes.

We Are Accepting Proposals with An Emphasis in Four Areas:

1. Mobile: We seek proposals for projects that will activate these rapidly emerging mobile telephony/digital networks and engage users, through basic and smart phone technologies, in ways that build support for science and technology investment in Africa by Africa for Africa. We seek proposals for projects that not only use mobile technology to gather, tell stories and source funding, but also compel people to collaborate and take collective and correctives action.

2. Data: We seek proposals for projects that produce new analysis of and insights to existing data about lack of existing science and technology efforts, and that use it to tell compelling, new stories about how accelerating investments is important to achieving human development and socio-economic impact. We seek proposals that include strategies for how to interpret, visualize, organize and communicate data to broad audiences including policy makers, planners, strategists, development experts, funders, etc.

3. Young audiences: We believe it is critical to engage the large demographic dividend that is the youth of Africa in strategies to address Africa’s challenges. We seek proposals for projects that will increase innovative ways of disseminating Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and enhance youth awareness of the importance of science and technology so they are informed advocates and leaders in creating solutions to locally relevant problems by becoming Citizen Science themselves. Proposals must include specific information about how to engage the youth, how to attract them into science careers, which youth audiences the project will reach, how it will activate those audiences, and why.

4. Direct Appeal to African Governments: When spent wisely consistently and at the right levels, scientific investments in Africa can reverse the economic impact of the huge African disease burden which is roughly estimated to reduce GDP by 20% [3]. We seek innovative and creative proposals that would make a strong case and direct appeal to African governments to dedicate increased annual funding to research, science and technology in their countries.



We will not consider funding for:
  • Projects not aligned with the African Academy of Sciences strategic goals;
  • Projects centered entirely around donations made by individuals to support narrowly defined development efforts;
  • Projects that do not have a robust engagement strategy;
  • Basic research without a clear objective to solve a communications and advocacy problem;
  • Projects earmarking African Academy of Sciences funds for lobbying activity (e.g. attempts to influence legislation or legislative action) or efforts to influence political campaigns for public office;
  • Projects that focus on a specific location or community, without a plan to expand the program more broadly;
  • Projects centered entirely on running workshops without a clear outcome for communication and engagement strategy. References

1. Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa, 1980-2000. (1982). Geneva, Switzerland: International Institute for Labour Studies.

2. Mugabe, J., & Ambali, A. (2006). Africa's science & technology consolidated plan of action. Midrand, South Africa: New Partnership for Africa's Development.

3. Fonkwo, P. N. (2008). Pricing infectious disease. The economic and health implications of infectious diseases. EMBO Reports, 9. doi:10.1038/embor.2008.110

Need for health innovations in East Africa

August 26 2016

Picture courtesy: www.freeimages.com

(This article draws its inspiration from the report ‘50 Breakthrough Technologies’ used to develop the guiding principle and technological breakthroughs required to address the healthcare needs of the region.)

 

The burden for communicable and non-communicable diseases has always been heavy on Africa. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) further lay heavy emphasis on need for health innovations to solve the acute healthcare issues in the region. The goals focus on improved health for all groups with priority for better access to maternal and child health, low incidences of HIV/AIDS, better healthcare delivery through innovations in diagnostics and as well as tackling of rise in non-communicable diseases, which all individually contribute to high death rates. From Mr. Ban Ki Moon, United Nations General Secretary to Secretary General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi (UNCTAD), members of United Nations have emphasized the role of private sector in pushing the implementation of SDGs and the opportunity that they provide for business-led solutions to be developed and implemented to address the world’s biggest sustainable development challenges.

 

In the past, most efforts have been devoted to increasing access to healthcare services. Today the diseases and problem areas are much more complex, exposing the region to far greater health hazard. Though access to healthcare has improved due to large investments in technology however little has been done to promote scientific and technological breakthroughs required to address the complex diseases. The focus should be on to invest in low cost devices which are affordable, portable, less dependent on human resources and training and require less infrastructure and energy to operate.

 

Current focus areas:

 

1. Reduction in communicable diseases incidence rates:

  • HIV/AIDS: Though the Eastern and Southern Africa account for 50 percent of world’s population living with HIV. Even post years of development aid focused to reduce this number, the region still has 48 per cent of the world’s new HIV infections among adults, 55 per cent among children, and 48 per cent of AIDS-related deaths. Thus, it is extremely important to focus on innovations that help reduce risk behavior to prevent spreading of HIV infection and help in controlling the disease.  Technological breakthroughs such as microbicides for better protection to those who are vulnerable to infection from their sexual partners, pre-exposure of antiretroviral therapy to reduce risk of HIV infection, other methodologies to increase patient adherence can significantly help reduce spread of the disease.
  • Malaria:  Sub-Saharan Africa is still home for highest malaria cases and deaths as compared to the world. The African region accounted for 88 percent of the 438000 cases in the world. Although the incidences have been curbed drastically and fatalities has been reduced however threat of vector resistance to insecticides is rising. Technological breakthroughs such as single dose for complete cure and new long-lasting non-chemical spatial mosquito repellent/attractants can significantly help reduce spread of diseases.  
  • TB/MDR-TB: Though Tuberculosis are now curable via antibiotics, the long duration of treatment makes the compliance challenging. Left untreated, it develops to multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). MDR-TB is becoming increasingly common and it is believed most cases of MDR-TB are now acquired directly, as opposed to being a result of failed treatment. Technological breakthroughs such as accurate diagnosis, shorter term TB courses, and biometric devices for tracking patients and compliance can significantly help reduce spread of the disease.

2. Affordable, portable and low cost medical devices: The global diagnostics technologies currently available, unfortunately, do not meet the need of African markets. These technologies heavily rely on energy, time consuming, difficult to transport and costly. An accurate and timely diagnostic can help prevent spread of diseases and fatalities. In order to reach the masses, it is important to develop diagnostic technologies which are portable, off-grid, single platform to diagnose multiple diseases and affordable. There is also a need to focus on improved maternal and neonatal healthcare. The maternal and neonatal fatalities are caused due to various independent medical conditions and thus the current need to is develop low cost fully integrated medical suite with facilities including ultrasound, appropriate diagnostics, safe birthing kits and post-delivery care.

 

3. Curbing the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs):  Years of development aids and work towards creating awareness has led to strengthening of healthcare systems, curbing communicable diseases in East Africa. However, economic growth, urbanization and unhealthy lifestyle has given rise to another threat - non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular diseases etc. The cardiovascular diseases itself accounts for 35 percent of the deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. For the time being, the efforts should lie in increasing awareness and encouraging people to live more healthy lifestyle. It is also important to provide affordable nutrient-dense complementary food for infants as many nursing mother may not have access to the required diet during breastfeeding period.

 

The need of these technologies and innovations provide a huge opportunity for social entrepreneurs. Looking at this need, Villgro Kenya was started in early 2015, supported by Lemelson Foundation, to incubate sustainable businesses in health innovations. Villgro Kenya is a replication of Villgro Innovations Foundation (VIF) model based in India. Over the past year, Villgro Kenya has built its expertise in supporting innovators and entrepreneurs in health and life sciences sector. We support incoming entrepreneurs by building their model through coaching and providing access to right networking opportunities for growth. We invite innovators and social entrepreneurs who are equally passionate to work towards healthier Africa through breakthrough technologies listed above.  

Contact Us

We would love to hear from you.

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