Egypt's stock market slightly up, main index falls after Juhayna head arrest    42nd Cairo International Film Festival opens today amid strict precautionary measures    Not so Merry Christmas looms for coronavirus-hit Europe    Asian stocks mixed on Wednesday after Wall Street surged overnight    Armed bank robbers storm another Brazilian town, battle police in streets    UK approves Pfizer-BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine, first in the world    A gloomy Christmas in store for Gaza handicraft workshop    Deadline for reconciliation requests in building violations pushed back till end of 2020: Egypt cabinet    Egypt's capital inflows fell by half in FY2019/20, CBE    Live score: Manchester United v Paris Saint-Germain (UEFA Champions League)    Egypt confirms 392 new coronavirus cases, 16 deaths on Tuesday    Champions League a headache for Atletico: Simeone after Bayern draw    Egyptian expats to print ballots starting Thursday for 2nd stage of parliamentary run-offs    Iran's president rejects bill that would boost enrichment    In '76 Days,' a documentary portrait of lockdown in Wuhan    19-year-old Jones sends Liverpool into last 16 with Ajax win    Eni reaches agreements with Egypt, Naturgy to restart operations at gas plant in Damietta    Cooperation between Egypt and Tanzania    Gana Hena play at Al-Ghad Theatre is a must go    A final battle    Upgrading transport    Free Devastation    France aiming for broader COVID-19 vaccination campaign in spring: Macron    Egypt reports 370 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths on Monday    Brexit unresolved, as EU, UK say big differences remain    Cairo International Book Fair suspended for five months over coronavirus concerns    US will reduce number of its troop in Iraq, Afghanistan    Asia forms world's biggest trade bloc, a China-backed group excluding U.S    Egypt unveils largest archaeological discovery in 2020 with over 100 intact sarcophagi    Trump says won't blame Egypt for being ‘upset' over GERD dispute with Ethiopia    1st stage of Egypt's parliamentary elections kicks off on Saturday    Global Finance: Egypt's Tarek Amer among the world's top 20 central bank governors    Legend footballer Lionel Messi says he is forced to stay with Barcelona    Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to resume Nile dam talks today    Iraqi conglomerate eyes developing land that housed Mubarak-era ruling party HQ    Legend Messi officially wants to leave Barcelona, hands transfer request    The Facebook Preacher's Search for Fame, and Egypt's Economy    Egypt calls on UNSC to address oil spill risks off Yemen coast    Egypt economically strong in face of COVID-19, reforms ongoing: International Cooperation Minister    Arafa Holding reports $144,000 COVID-19-related losses in April    Egypt's efforts in Libya to activate free will of Libyan people: Al-Sisi    Hyksos campaigns were internal takeover, not foreign invaders: study    COVID-19 affects Egypt sporting clubs    COVID-19 will soon turn to seasonal like swine flu: Presidential Health Advisor    ‘Egypt's Support' coalition convenes to discuss its Senate election list    Robbery attempt leads to discovery of Ptolemaic monuments in Qena    Flouting international guidance, Ethiopia unilaterally starts filling its Nile dam    Zaha speaks out after online racial abuse    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.





Health tech pins hope on Africa's pandemic shift to online care
Published in Ahram Online on 07 - 09 - 2020

When Loveth Metiboba's baby had diarrhoea, she worried that taking him to a clinic near her home in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, might expose them both to the coronavirus.
"The idea of going to the clinic was very scary," said Metiboba, a researcher for a charity.
Instead, the clinic, run by Nigerian health technology firm eHealth Africa, sent her a web browser link to hold a video chat with a doctor who diagnosed her son with a mild illness and prescribed medicine to avoid dehydration.
Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the way medicine is practised as medical care increasingly begins with an online consultation rather than a face-to-face meeting.
But the opportunities in Africa, where access to medical care is often restricted, are transformational and offer growth prospects to companies that provide online consultations and online sales of medicine.
Mukul Majmudar, chief executive of CureCompanion, which developed the online platform Metiboba used, said the Texas-based company had seen a 12-fold increase in business in Africa this year from 2019.
That compares with a 10-fold rise in online medicine across all seven countries - Armenia, Honduras, India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United States, as well as Nigeria - where it is present.
Helium Health, a Nigerian company that specialises in digitising medical records, brought forward to February the launch of its online consultation platform, which had been planned for later in the year, to meet demand resulting from the pandemic.
In May, it raised $10 million from investors, including Chinese technology giant Tencent.
Helium Health's CEO Adegoke Olubusi said dozens of hospitals and clinics had subscribed to the service.
They include a private clinic in the Victoria Island business district of Lagos.
It is run by doctor Ngozi Onyia, who said she had signed up for a 150,000 naira ($394.22) monthly subscription with Helium Health and that most of the clinic's patients had opted for online consultations, referred to as telemedicine, within weeks of Nigeria's first cases of the novel coronavirus.
The online consultations cost 10,000 naira each - half the cost of an in-person examination.
"This kept us going - we held on to our patients and even gained new ones," Onyia said.
PRIVATE FUNDING, GOVERNMENT USE
Even before the pandemic, public health experts and investors saw the potential for telemedicine to help Africa cater for the needs of rapidly-expanding populations.
Funding from development agencies and venture capitalists alike has flowed into tech companies providing healthcare in Africa.
Data from San Francisco-based investment firm Partech showed venture capital investment in Africa's health tech companies grew to $189 million in 2019 from around $20 million in both 2017 and 2018. Even in the turmoil of the pandemic, some $97 million was raised in the first half of 2020, Partech said.
Of last year's total, $69 million was spread across 12 deals and $120 million went to Zipline, a Californian drone firm that launched in Rwanda in 2016.
It estimates that its drones, carrying medical equipment, can reach 95% of the mountainous East African country from two distribution centres.
In 2019 it expanded into Ghana, where the government enlisted it during lockdown in May to deliver coronavirus test samples, vaccines and protective clothing, such as gloves.
"It became very handy during this pandemic where we needed to send samples quickly to testing centres," Nsiah-Asare, health adviser to Ghana's president said.
The government is in talks with Zipline about expanding its operations in Ghana by creating three new distribution centres in addition to the four Zipline already operates there, Nsiah-Asare and the company's country director Daniel Marfo told Reuters.
The government in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, has also seen the potential for high tech help.
Authorities in the capital Abuja contracted the charitable arm of eHealth Africa to roll out a system that alerts patients who test negative for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 with an automated text message.
Those who test positive for the coronavirus require medical help and contact-tracing, but for negative tests, a message is enough.
Chikwe Ihekweazu, who heads the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said automating the process would help authorities handle increased testing after the resumption of international flights from Sept. 5.
"Almost everything we're doing right now, from logistics to managing the outbreak itself, is being migrated into different technological platforms," Ihekweazu said.
ECONOMIC CRISIS
For all the potential for technology to help, it is likely to be constrained as the COVID-19 pandemic adds to Africa's economic problems.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast a 3.2% contraction in sub-Saharan Africa's gross domestic product in 2020.
In addition, the pandemic has put around 20 million jobs at risk across the continent, the African Union has said, which will reduce people's ability to spend on healthcare.
Already Africa spends less on healthcare than the rest of the world.
It makes up 16% of the world's population and carries 23% of the global disease burden, but accounted for just 1% of total global health expenditure in 2015, according to the most recently available data provided by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
In per capita terms, the rest of the world spends 10 times more, it said.
The widespread adoption of health technology may also be stymied by poor internet connectivity and patchy electricity.
Metiboba switches between two network providers to overcome connectivity problems.
It's an approach that is too costly for many, but for Metiboba it means she has continued to use remote consultations since her son's health scare and plans to continue to do so.
"It works for me," she said.


Clic here to read the story from its source.