The state of health techs in West Africa Vs East Africa – A comparative analysis

  • 14/07/2022

  • The Helium Team

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Africa only has 2.8 doctors per 10,000 people, compared to 43.2 doctors per 10,000 people in Europe. At the same time, the region accounts for almost a quarter of the global disease burden. Health is wealth, yet very few African countries meet the $34 – $40 per person spend the WHO considers the minimum for basic health care each year. Furthermore, even amidst endemic poverty and deprivation, the share of the region’s health expenditure financed by out-of-pocket and other private payments remains above 40%. This predicament has now been further complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic which wreaked havoc on the continent and is already debilitating the healthcare system. Individuals, governments, and businesses are developing sustainable solutions to tackle this life-threatening issue and technology has emerged as a potential gamechanger.

Health technology (“Health Tech”) typically involves innovative models of healthcare processes or delivery, including financing, systems support, products/technology, integrated databases, digital logistics and a wide array of digital solutions that foster improvements in healthcare accessibility, affordability, and quality. It leverages existing technologies by delivering its services via mobile, smartphones, drones and mobile health containers. These solutions help ensure cost-effectiveness and allow healthcare providers to reach even the most remote and rural populations. In terms of the target audience, there is something for everybody. Health techs target patients, manufacturers, financiers, providers, distributors, and so on.
The state of health techs in West Africa Vs East Africa – A comparative analysis As African countries face similar healthcare challenges, health techs are evolving in comparable but unique ways across the continent, particularly in East & West Africa. To understand the state of the health tech industry in these two regions, we look through two lenses: the gaps health techs are plugging and the funding they receive.

In Africa, many health techs exist to fill existing gaps in the healthcare sector. Within East and West Africa specifically, there are healthcare needs that are not being fulfilled by traditional healthcare models, and health systems are plagued by a shortage of financial, medical and human resources. While most African countries have adopted Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a key objective in their national health strategies, progress in translating these UHC commitments into reality have been incredibly slow. As a result, healthcare innovations have become a matter of urgency.

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