Advances in technology and innovative ideas are allowing for better healthcare and improved diagnostic efforts in communities throughout Africa, including in remote areas thanks to the wonders of mobile and the internet.
From mobile apps to diagnostic tests and startups dedicated to advances in healthcare, these efforts are leading to improvements in the accessibility and quality of care in numerous African countries and beyond.
Here are 5 ways in which Africans are transforming healthcare through technology.
Telemedicine bringing medical care to patients from a distance
South African medical provider Discovery Health recently launched a new digital healthcare platform, called DrConnect, which uses a predictive artificial intelligence engine to provide contextual and meaningful information based on the questions that patients have, with millions of responses stored on the platform and access to actual doctors possible too.
Mobile apps for pregnancy health
Mobile apps such as the Kenya-based Toto Health or Ethiopia’s Safe Delivery assist in monitoring the health of pregnant women, with the apps sending text messages to the mother-to-be that are specifically tailored to various stages of the pregnancy. Potentially life-saving advice is consistently sent to the women who use the app.
A computer that can smell cancer cells
Nigerian inventor Oshiorenoya Agabi has designed and developed a computer that can identify the smell of cancer cells through a combination of neurons and silicon. The device can also be used to detect illness by sensing markers of a disease in the air molecules that a patient gives off. Being able to smell and detect cancer cells at an early stage could lead to huge gains in early detection and treatment of such diseases.
Software that assists in diagnosis
Zimbabwean Gift Gana has created Dr CADx, a software solution that assists doctors and healthcare workers to diagnose medical images more accurately and efficiently. Radiologists are not in plentiful supply throughout Africa, especially in rural areas, so Dr CADx uses deep learning to interpret medical images accurately in order to assist doctors in general.
Empowering doctors with regional info
South African medical tech startup EMGuidance provides a mobile app, which was launched last year, allowing doctors and medical professionals to source treatment protocols for chronic conditions and information on medication that differs from region to region. The app gives invaluable information regarding specific dosages, as well as which medicines are available and registered by the respective local medical council in a particular part of the world.
Smartphones used as diagnostic tool
In an effort to combat malaria, Code8, a team of four young Ugandans, created Matibabu, a smartphone app that helps to diagnose malaria without the need of a blood sample. Using a custom-made matiscope with a red LED and a light sensor, it can analyze the red blood cells, with the results viewed via a smartphone to give users with their malaria status in the shortest amount of time.