The worldwide digital revolution has changed many industries. Automations are changing anything from factories to marketing departments. More and more people are connected to each other, and it communicating across borders is becoming easier and easier. In fact, during my time in Ghana, in many cases I had a better connection than some areas in the UK.
The health system has, fortunately, not been immune to those changes. There have been both big and small changes in the health sector. Super computers incredible power means research into diseases is becoming more efficient with huge amounts of data being analysed in a fraction of the time. Patients records are now mostly digitised, making it easier for doctors to quickly diagnose a problem. In fact, the digitilisation of records “can result in 40% faster checking of medical records during preparation and post processing of ward rounds in hospital”.
Technology is making a huge difference. Just a small thing like increasing the speed in which doctors can care for patients means better health care for more patients. (And hopefully less mysterious deaths) We have spoken a lot about health tech here on Inventive Africa. Mobile phones are enabling a great deal of felixbility for patients. They can now have contact with doctors remotely, and even send in photos for diagnosis. Other incredible health innovations coming out of Africa include 3D printing medical supplies out of recycled plastic, cheaper, smaller, lighter MRI scanners, loads of malaria innovations and drones delivering blood in Rwanda!
The Zipline drone solution is world changing innovation. They have put into practice drone deliveries before any of the main players like Amazon. But, what happens when there is a shortage of blood. Yes, it is great to be able to deliver it anywhere, but wouldn’t it be better to have the blood already in situ? That is a problem that LifeBank, in Nigeria are trying to solve. Set up by Temie Giwa-Tumosun, who was recently invited to the World Economic Forum on Africa, LifeBank is essentially a blood market place.
The app is an “intuitive blood donor database” that aims at inspiring Africans to give blood in their communities. The app brings together hospital and the blood bank, so they know exactly what is needed, what is available and if there is a shortage, who to target. They then deliver it directly to the hospital, on time. There is, of course, like all African apps these days, a simple payment system integrated into the app.
This system is sure to save many lives. Firstly, mobilising blood donations in local communities is incredibly important. If the blood is on hand nearby, it can be delivered at short notice, no need to mobilise a drone from a 100 km away. People often need blood for transfusions at short notice, especially in the case of road traffic accident victims.
A great side effect of digitalisation is access to information. When suffering from a chronic illness, it is important to be up to date on the latest information as well as to know how to manage the condition. Diabetes and hypertension are growing world problems. The rate of diabetes has doubled in Africa in recent years, but there is not enough knowledge on it across the continent.
That is where AfyaPap comes in. This app is being used by Kenyans with diabetes and hypertension to help them manage their condition. It collects personal health data of the subscribers and then delivers customised education via the app. Subscribers will receive alerts with information, essential tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including diet, physical activity, sexual health and mental wellness. It also has a system to track vital statistics such as blood glucose.
Diabetes is a dangerous condition that when not managed correctly can lead to serious health implications. Education about diabetes is not readily available in Africa. Apps like these not only enhance knowledge of individuals with diabetes, but enable them to share their knowledge with those who do not have the app, or access to information. The app helps subscribers recognise and understand symptoms at different levels of the sickness. Very important for personal health as well as recognising when others around them are sick, which will become more and more common with the rise of diabetes worldwide.
Africa needs innovation to keep revolutionising the health industry. It needn’t follow the systems of the UK and other so called developed nations. It can use technology to create health solutions that are more efficient and effective in dealing with African health problems.
If you know of an innovation that is changing lives, or you want to be a guest blogger get in contact with us on Twitter @InventiveAfrica or via email, and please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook. Also, we have a new Facebook page! Please like it, and carry on the dialogue about African Innovation there!