Healthcare in Africa has a long way to go before it can meet the needs of the region. There are several reasons for the current state of the healthcare industry, but underinvestment and a physician shortage are two of the most significant.
The IFC estimates that $25 to $30 billion will be needed to help close the continent’s healthcare gap. Because of years of government neglect, most Africans now have to pay through the nose for healthcare. In many countries, the cost of healthcare is primarily determined by foreign aid and individual spending.
The continent also has one of the lowest health worker-to-population ratios in the world (including physicians, surgeons, nurses, and midwives). Africa’s ratio, according to the WHO, is 155:100,000, which is less than the recommended ratio of 445:100,000.
Many Africans have sought alternative solutions due to the high cost and scarcity of essential healthcare services. Africans are not uncommon in treating themselves at home with traditional medicine or self-recommended drugs, with varying degrees of success.
MyHealth Africa is attempting to find a solution. MyHealth Africa is a Kenyan healthtech startup that connects patients with local and international doctors and hospitals. A specialized healthcare booking platform, a medical management system, and a patient concierge service are all available through the platform.
The startup has now raised a $1 million seed round with the goal of expanding across Africa and entering Asia through the Middle East and South Asia next year. The GIIG Africa Fund led the round, with participation from Samurai VC, a family office, and existing shareholders. The funding comes as the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa, the GIIG Africa Fund’s exclusive vehicle for finding, funding, and scaling startups in Africa with SDG-aligned solutions, named MyHealth Africa the Top HealthTech Startup.
Ryan Marincowitz founded the startup in 2017, and he told TechCabal via email that, despite being based in Kenya, it has already helped patients from all over the world. He went on to say that MyHealth Africa’s most important markets outside of Africa are the Middle East and South Asia.
We assist hundreds of patients each month from these markets to access specialised healthcare services at our network of leading hospitals in the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and Asia. We see these two markets as significant growth areas for us in the near term, in addition to continuing our expansion across Africa.Marincowitz, 2022.
Marincowitz claims that over 27,000 patients have used the startup’s platform to access specialized healthcare services, and MyHealth Africa receives a coordination or facilitation fee for each patient helped. “The cost for the patient is either the same as if they went directly to the medical facility, or in some cases, it is cheaper if the patient goes through us because we can negotiate a discount,” he added.
Following the effects of COVID-19, the number of healthtech startups innovating around Africa’s unique problems has steadily increased. In 2021, African health startups raised $392 million in funding, an 81% increase over the previous record-breaking year of 2020. According to the World Economic Forum, Africa’s healthcare sector will be worth $1 trillion by 2030.