Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

5 health initiatives saving lives in Africa

Health care challenges is one of the major problems Africa is struggling to combat in recent times. Statistics indicates that the region bears 25% of the world’s disease burden, but has only 3% of the world’s doctors with a physician to population ratio of only 13:100,000. Several countries are making remarkable efforts to improving health care systems and access to health care. Africans have capitalized on technological advancement to develop ideas to address the medical needs of the continent. We take a look at some of the innovations in the health domain which are going a long way to help save lives in the continent.
  1. THE CARDIOPAD – Cameroon

The CardioPad manufactured by the Himore Medical in Cameroon is a wireless solution that enables the efficient monitoring of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). It helps resolves the problem of low doctor to patient ratio by enabling the successful examination of patients for CVD. Africa’s first fully touch-screen medical tablet developed by Cameroonian engineer Arthur Zang, collects signals generated by the rhythmic contraction and expansion of a patient’s heart. The device carries a set of four wireless electrodes and a sensor generates a signal when placed on the heart. It is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the tablet after which it is wirelessly transmitted over GSM networks to a cardiologist for interpretation and diagnosis.

This innovation was inspired by the fact that majority of cardiovascular specialists practice in the capital city of Cameroon while 80% of the country’s population lives in rural areas.

  1. AVIRO HEALTH – South Africa

This is a South African based design and technology which develops digital applications for healthcare practitioners to improve the quality of medical treatment. The applications are available to healthcare professionals in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Malawi. Some of its applications are designed to assist administration of HIV/AIDS treatment. It also provides e-learning and training platforms, for medical practitioners in the form of e-books and videos.

The services it provides is helping to revolutionize the health sector as it gives room for medical personnel to learn as well as have access to recent guidelines for the administration of antiretrovirals (ARVs). HIV-positive patients also have access access to a referral system and a HIV hotline through the application.

  1. THE TUTU VAN – South Africa

The “Tutu Tester”, an initiative of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is a mobile clinic that provides HIV testing with screenings for other common diseases such as diabetes or hypertension and targets the underserved regions of South Africa with high HIV prevalence.

This initiative was birthed due to the high prevalence of HIV and Tuberclusis in South Africa and recently the country is considered the third highest TB burden in the world.

The van moves around with testing equipment and trained staff into areas without adequate health facilities.

Over the years, the Tutu Tester van now sees an average of 40-60 individuals a day and more than 7,000 have received HIV screenings and counselling.

  1. DEAFTRONICS – Botswana

It is renounced for manufacturing the first solar-powered hearing aid unit, Solar Ear which reduces the amount of visits patients are typically required to make to care centres in Africa and across the world. It is made up of a digital hearing aid, a solar battery charger, and four rechargeable batteries.

The solar rechargeable hearing aid is basically designed for and more accessible to rural or poverty-stricken hearing impaired patients in Botswana due to the fact that they are three times less expensive than other hearing aids on the market and come with a complete solar charging package.

So far the devices has aided 40 000 children in 31 countries to go to school and lowered the rate of HIV-AIDS in Botswana among the deaf population from 38% to 10%.

  1. MATIBABU – Uganda

The phone application developed by Brian Gitta from Uganda is noninvasive and can detect malaria quickly without drawing blood from the patient. The machine which takes approximately two minutes to detect malaria uses magnets and a custom-made device called a matiscope which shines a red beam of light on the user’s finger, detecting a substance called haemozoin crystals, the byproduct of the malaria parasite. The device is connected to a smartphone and alerts health teams of an outbreak of the disease.

This innovation is instrumental in detecting malaria not just in Uganda, but across sub-Saharan Africa, where 90% of the 400,000 global deaths are caused by malaria.



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