The State Of Healthcare In Africa
Today, Africa has the poorest healthcare system in the world: 8 out of the 10 countries with the worst healthcare in the world are from Africa. Simultaneously, Africa is burdened with nearly a quarter of all global disease cases – but only receives 1% of global health expenditure.
Old healthcare systems and lack of necessary health infrastructure have facilitated medical tourism. For example, 5000 Nigerians leave the country every month to seek treatment in other countries. This also means that $1.2 billion is spent on medical tourism every year.
Apart from an absolute lack of funding, distribution is an issue: the national health scheme is inefficient, disconnecting the low and middle-class earners from accessing expensive healthcare provided by private health-institutions.
Africans Lack High-Quality And Affordable Diagnostic Services.
The lack of funding also means that healthcare practitioners across Africa cannot afford high-quality medical equipment and instead settle for cheaper, substandard alternatives which are prone to malfunction. The WHO estimates that 80 per cent of the medical equipment in developing countries is donated. Also, the absence of trained biomedical technicians in Nigeria means that medical equipment in the field often stay faulty when they get faulty. A report from 2011 showed that 40% of all equipment across 16 African countries was faulty.
High quality and functioning medical equipment could be one of the keys to unlocking renewed hope in Africa’s healthcare sector. Good diagnosis tools used right can detect symptoms early, prevent costly treatments for which funding is lacking and help create data to uncover patterns that can be used to develop new systems.
One Solution: A Healthcare Services Network
Oni Oluwasoga, the founder of MDaaS – a Lagos-based health technology startup, has experienced problems with inaccessibility to high-quality medical equipment. He saw his father and other health practitioners across Sub-Saharan Africa struggle to afford high-quality medical equipment and settle for used equipment from Europe or China, which come with risks, as most of them lack warranties and operating manuals.
To tackle the lack of high-quality and affordable diagnostic equipment, Oni along with co-founders Genevieve Barnard, Joe McCord, and Opeyemi Ologun founded MDaaS in 2017. The company is building a network of tech-enabled diagnostic facilities for under-served constituencies in Africa.
How MdaaS Works
MDaaS Global is a Lagos-based health technology startup that builds and operates diagnostic centres. This startup has begun operations in two of Nigeria’s largest cities – Ibadan and Ilorin under the brand name BeaconHealth. Its focus is on reducing operational and acquisition costs while offering quality but affordable services to its customers. MDaaS’ goal of sourcing low-cost medical equipment to underserved communities, has led them to develop a novel acquisition system that ensures they can acquire and ship refurbished medical equipment to Nigeria at a price 60 per cent lower than local rates. MDaaS’ business model guarantees that they offer high-quality diagnostics services like radiology, ultrasound, and diagnostic laboratory procedures starting at $4, while an average patient visit costs around $20.
Since its launch in 2017, MDaaS has served over 9000 patients. It’s able to accomplish this by partnering with over 60 hospitals and clinics who refer patients for diagnosis. These partnerships help increase the company’s impact and strengthens the local healthcare ecosystem.
The company says its target market is low and middle-income Africans living in urban and peri-urban areas. Oni and his co-founders are looking to capture the opportunity in an estimated $1.3 billion market with over 130 million patients in Africa.
What’s The Outlook?
Healthcare in Africa is starting to have a more promising outlook as innovators look to solve problems in the sector(Please read our article about how technology is impacting healthcare in Africa). Startups in the healthcare space have been innovating and are starting to bridge the healthcare gap across Africa.
With an addressable market valued at about $1.3 billion, scale is possible for MdaaS – if its team successfully creates a system that will ensure equipment can be sourced at scale while applying cutting-edge supply-chain and procurement expertise. Likewise, MdaaS will need to focus on ensuring it widens patient acquisition by deepening integration and partnerships with local healthcare providers, employers and non-profits. They will need to do this while also applying user acquisition strategies that encourage direct walk-in patients.
MDaaS’ operation is already impacting healthcare in Africa by giving people in rural communities access to quality medical equipment. Its ultimate success will push Africa closer to a future where everyone has access to quality and affordable healthcare.
We recently published a deep dive on the health sector in Africa and how technology is impacting the space and bridging the gaps. You can join the conversation by leaving a comment below. If you have any insight, thoughts or opinions that you want to share with us, we’d love to hear from you. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.