As mobile penetration and smartphone proliferation continues its unprecedented surge in Africa, its beneficiaries are spreading beyond the confines of social interactions and brand development. The number of health solutions, exploiting this growth, are also on the rise.
From combating malaria to detecting counterfeit drugs, the emergence of mobile health solutions is saving more lives than international aids. A 2013 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) projects that such initiatives in Africa could save a million lives by the year 2017.
According to PWC, over three million lives are lost yearly across Africa as a result of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and pregnancy-related conditions.
To help gather our thoughts, here are 10 health apps that are saving millions of lives within Africa.
Currently available in 10 African countries, Hello Doctor provides free essential healthcare information that is updated daily.
The app also provide access to healthcare advice, answers to health-related questions in live group chat forums, confidential one-on-one text conversation with a doctor (also in local languages), and the ability to receive a call back from a doctor within 60 minutes.
mPedigree is a phone-based anti-counterfeit ICT software application which allows pharmaceutical retailers and users verify the authenticity of a drug. This is done for free by text-messaging a unique code found on the product to a universal number.
The system helps to tackle the problem of counterfeit medicine by partnering with different pharmaceutical to create a short code on the package of products. These codes are typed in a simple text message and a message is sent to verify the authenticity of the product.
mPedigree is not only helping poor people who are vulnerable to purchasing fake drugs, it is also helping to restore confidence to the healthcare system.
Though maternal mortality rate is high in Africa, one app is helping weaken its influence in South Africa.
MomConnect is a cellphone-based application that provides information and advice for pregnant women in South Africa.
Managed by the Department of health with funds from the United States government and Johnson & Johnson, the app advises pregnant women on what to do at any stage of their pregnancy.
Post-natal, the app continues to provide medical information to mothers for a year. Most information provided during this period is centred around child vaccination.
Malaria is one of the deadliest diseases in the world and the biggest health problem in sub-Sahara Africa. However, Code8 – a team of four young Uganda techies – created Matibabu, a smartphone app that help to diagnose malaria without a blood sample.
Using a custom-made piece of hardware (matiscope), which consists of a red LED and a light sensor, it can pierce beyond the skin to reach the Red Blood Cells. A finger is inserted into the device to diagnose and the results are viewed via a smartphone. This provides users with their malaria status in the shortest possible time.
Launched by Kenyan developers, Shimba Technologies, MedAfrica acts as a pocket clinic. It helps people in rural areas diagnose and monitor symptoms of diseases.
The app also provides directories of Doctors and hospitals, gives advice on treatment, validates doctors, authenticates possible counterfeit drugs and direct users to the nearest hospital.
Launched during the Ramadan season in Senegal, mRamadan is an app that helps diabetic patients manage their health while fasting.
Users receive free, daily text messages with recommendation before fasting during the month of Ramadan.
The app was part of the “Be He@lthy Be Mobile” program, a joint initiative by the World Health Organization and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), designed to help countries fight non-communicable diseases.
Smart Health app
Smart Health app focuses on providing accurate baseline information resource on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
In the future, it hopes to include information on nutrition, Prenatal and Postnatal mother care, and newborn health consultation.
The app is currently available in Tanzania,Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Angola,Ghana, and Senegal and embedded in all Samsung phones, the biggest smartphone manufacturer in Africa.
The Sehatuk, meaning “Your Health” in Arabic, provides a huge data base of drugs available in Morocco, along with their prices and dosages.
It also provides useful information calling up an ambulance as well as news on the medical insurance.
The app recently won the African Content Awards during the African Ministerial Forum of Science Technology and Innovation in October.
Omomi (My Child)
Omomi (My Child) is an app that informs mothers and another relative on immunization dates, baby’s growth pattern and general infant health tips.
Ill locals, mostly in Egypt, can use this app to make appointments with a doctor online via Vezeeta, an online appointment booking site.
Doctors on the other hand can use DrBridge to access a patient’s medical records that have been stored online.