Tanzania govt partners Zipline to launch drone delivery service for vaccines & life-saving medicines for emergencies


The Tanzanian government has announced it’s launching the world’s largest drone delivery service to provide emergency on-demand access to critical and life-saving medicines beginning in the first quarter of 2018 in Dodoma, the country’s capital.

According to the government, it will use drones to make up to 2,000 life-saving deliveries per day to over one thousand health facilities, serving 10 million people across the country.

“Every life is precious,” said Dr. Mpoki Ulisubisya, Permanent Secretary of the Tanzania Ministry of Health. “Our vision is to have a healthy society with improved social well being that will contribute effectively to personal and national development; working with Zipline will help make that vision a reality.”

Tanzania is not the first country in the region to do these. In October 2016, Rwanda partnered with Zipline, a California-based automated logistics firm to launch its drone delivery network. In Tanzania, Zipline will operate from four distribution centers—one in Dodoma, two near Mwanza and Lake Victoria, and one in Mbeya. The four distribution centers will be equipped with up to 30 drones and targeting up to 500 on-demand delivery flights a day to ensure that all 5,640 public health facilities have blood transfusion supplies, emergency vaccines, HIV medications, anti-malarials and critical medical supplies like sutures and IV tubes.

The drones can carry 1.5 kilos of cargo, cruising at 110 kilometers an hour, and have a round trip range of 160 kilometers. Health workers place delivery orders by text message and receive their package within 30 minutes on average. Zipline which has flown more than 100,000 km in Rwanda, delivering 2,600 units of blood over 1,400 flights.

“Millions of people across the world die each year because they can’t get the medicine they need when they need it,” said Zipline CEO Keller Rinaudo. “It’s a problem in both developed and developing countries. But it’s a problem we can help solve with on-demand drone delivery. And African nations are showing the world how it’s done.”

7 Things to Expect from Future Healthcare


Healthcare research and advancements are changing our quality of life for the better before a person even receives a diagnosis. We are therefore looking at seven things we can expect from healthcare in the near future.

  • Preventative Medicine

Many medical establishments are storing electronic medical records in the cloud, which allows healthcare tasks to become available online. As a result, it will become easier to detect early symptoms and changes, as the sensors will inform patients to care for their body before they become sick. While this technology remains in the early stages, it may become the forefront of medicine with further investment.

  • Robots

Predictive data will allow devices and robots to perform various healthcare tasks alone. For instance, the San Francisco Medical Center uses Eve, an Aethon-built robot, to deliver supplies and samples. As a result, this could become the norm in many healthcare practices in the not-so-distant future.

  • Improved Data and Diagnosis

Many doctors are already using high-tech computers and devices to improve the standards of healthcare. However, data will soon become at the forefront of modern medicine, as it is expected to become more readily available. As a result, a physician can use this extensive information to diagnose and treat patients at a faster rate effectively.

For instance, the X Prize Foundation is providing $10 million to the first team who can deliver a tricorder. This is a hand-held diagnostic device that will be able to detect diseases, and it might be available sooner than you think. Dr. Peter Diamandis believes it could be created within the next five years.

  • Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana is already available in more than half of all US states, as it can effectively treat various health conditions, such as arthritis, cancer prevention and depression. With further research taking place to understand the different types of marijuana and their medical benefits, it may very well become a legalized drug across the world in years to come.

  • The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things could connect modern devices to predictive medicine. For instance, it may soon become possible to connect a person’s general health to their lifestyle. With data and technology advancing at a rapid rate, many entrepreneurs may be able to utilize new technologies to improve the patient experience.

  • Healthcare Collaborations

Medical researchers are expected to increasingly collaborate with innovative entrepreneurs to improve the healthcare sector. Their goal will be to identify how new technologies can fill any gaps in healthcare to stop, prevent or treat various medical conditions and illnesses.

  • Home Healthcare

Apps on the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home may soon change home healthcare for the better. They are expected to soon talk to the Internet of Things devices within the home, such as wearable technologies, glucometer and blood pressure cuffs. What’s more, they may be able to run a daily healthcare check and can call emergency services by a person simply saying “Alexa, call 911”.


GE’s healthymagination selects 14 African social entrepreneurs addressing maternal & child health into its 2nd cohort


14 organizations have been selected to be in the programme’s second cohort of social entrepreneurs and accelerate maternal health outcomes across Africa with impact areas including, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more.

The 14 social enterprises include Afya Research Africa – STONE HMIS®, Cedars Diagnostics, doctHERs, Early Reach, Liberian Energy Network, Maternity Foundation, MDaaS, MOBicure, Neopenda, Sevamob, Sisu Global Health, Southlake Medical Centre – under LiveWell, SubQ Assist and Totohealth Tanzania.

The programme dubbed the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme was launched in March 2016 by GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship to continue to accelerate health innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The selected social enterprises will receive training and mentorship aimed at improving and accelerating maternal and/or child health outcomes in Africa.

According to Farid Fezoua, President & CEO, GE Healthcare Africa, “Nurturing a vibrant social entrepreneurship ecosystem is key for sustainable healthcare development and is a major focus area for GE in Africa. Through their various initiatives to strengthen mother and child care, these social entrepreneurs are bringing innovative approaches to tackle some of Africa’s biggest challenges and this is truly exciting.”

By leveraging GE’s domain expertise and the business-building skills imparted by Miller Center’s Silicon Valley mentors, the organizations will receive mentorship and guidance to acquire business fundamentals, improve their strategic thought processes, and articulate business plans that demonstrate impact, growth and long-term financial sustainability.

The kick-off workshop will be followed by a six-month, online accelerator programme with in-depth mentorship from Silicon Valley-based executives and local GE business leaders. The accelerator and mentorship programme will culminate in a “Premier Pitch” event in Africa where the 14 organizations will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors.

Robert Wells, Executive Director of healthymagination, “Solving local health challenges calls for locally-adapted interventions and innovations, and Social Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa are playing a major role in this regard. The healthymagination Mother and Child programme will continue to provide them with mentorship and in-depth training, accelerating health innovation and furthering our goal to increase the quality, access and affordability of maternal and child health.”




Malawi Government is first in Africa to set up & test an air corridor for humanitarian drones


The Government of Malawi has set up an air corridor to test potential humanitarian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones being the first country to dedicated a corridor to drones as well as the first in Africa and one of the first globally with a focus on humanitarian and development use.

Working with UNICEF, the corridor is centred on Kasungu Aerodrome, in central Malawi, with a 40km radius (80km diameter) and is open to the private sector, universities and other partners to explore how drones can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities.

According to Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, “Malawi has over the years proved to be a leader in innovation and it is this openness to innovation that has led to the establishment of Africa’s first drones testing corridor here in Malawi. We have already used drones as part of our flood response and we can see the potential for further uses, such as transportation of medical supplies, which could transform lives in remote rural communities.”

Last year, Rwanda’s Zipline became the world’s first national drone delivery service and raised $25m series to test the service and scale it to more services. However, Malawi becomes the first to dedicate a testing corridor specifically for drones. The  corridor will test drones for aerial imagery to monitor situations such as floods and earthquakes. It will also test Wi-Fi or cellphone signal drones for emergencies and marginalized areas and will test delivery of small low weight supplies such as emergency medical supplies, vaccines and samples for laboratory diagnosis, including for HIV testing.

The government says UAV corridor will run for at least one year, until June 2018. Drone manufacturers, operators and telecom companies such as: GLOBHE (Sweden) in collaboration with HemoCue and UCANDRONE (Greece), and Precision (Malawi) have applied to use the corridor for testing their services.

Malawi has limited road access to rural areas even most times, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities.

“This humanitarian drone testing corridor can significantly improve our efficiency and ability to deliver services to the world’s most vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Office of Global Innovation Principal Adviser Christopher Fabian. “The success of these trials will depend on working in new ways with the private sector, government and local entrepreneurs and engineers who can ensure that technologies deliver appropriate solutions for the people who need them the most.”

The launch of the UAV testing corridor follows a pilot project in Malawi in March 2016 on the feasibility of using drones for the transportation of dried blood samples for early infant diagnosis of HIV. UNICEF has also deployed drones to support the Government of Malawi’s response to recent floods. UAV flights went out in Salima, Lilongwe and Karonga between February and April 2017 to provide aerial footage to help assess the needs of affected families.

Livia app, a drugs ordering & delivery platform launches to take on MyDawa and be an ‘Uber ‘for drugs


MyDawa competitor Livia app is set to launch in Nairobi to connect users to chemists near them and provide a secondary revenue stream to partner chemists across the country.

With Livia, users in Kenya will be able to order over the counter (OTC) drugs as well as prescription medication for self-collection at the pharmacy or to be delivered at their doorsteps. When ordering prescription medication, the user is required to upload a photo of the prescription and the pharmacist verifies the prescription as they would a physical copy.

Though Livia does not compete chemists, as an ordering and delivery platform, it will need to charge a fee on every transaction over the platform just like Uber or other on-demand platforms. At the moment, Livia’s task is to sign up as many chemists as possible to its retailer focused platform unlike MyDawa which is consumer focused and against the traditional supply chain.

“No more waiting in long queues, no more papers to fill,” says the firm on its website. “No more picking up prescriptions from the pharmacy. LIVIA will deliver your medications right at your doorstep or have your medicines prepared and ready for collection at your nearest pharmacy with express service and maximum care.”

Livia allows for real-time consultation with a pharmacist just like MyDawa, which recently raised $5m from Ion, an Irish private equity to make it possible for consumers to purchase high quality healthcare, fitness and wellness products via their computers or mobile phones.

The major advantage MyDawa has over Livia is that MyDawa manufactures some of the drugs apart from just being a third-party platform.

“We have a vision to bridge the gaps between healthcare providers (i.e. Drug manufacturers, doctors, pharmacists, Insurers) and consumers. As a health and wellness brand, we are committed to offering the best products, through our platform,” said MyDawa Founder Neil O’Leary.

At the moment, both platforms do not charge any commissions on transactions. Both platforms are licensed by the Pharmacy Poisons Board (PPB) and are expected to provide affordable access to pharmaceutical products especially for patients with chronic illnesses and who require long term over the counter medication. MyDawa claims that buy cutting off third-party retailers it gives consumers access to quality drugs at affordable prices because it eliminates the traditional pharmaceutical supply chain.

Merck accelerator opens calls for new round of health startups | Launches a Virtual Innovator Academy


Merck has opened applications for the next round of its accelerator programs in Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya for startups in the fields of healthcare, life science, performance materials and digital healthcare from around the world.

According to Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck Innovation Center: “When we asked for feedback from our current and previous participants, they wanted flexible access to resources outside of the programme of seminars, workshops and expert mentoring we have in place. To provide this, we have set up the Virtual Innovator Academy as a constantly accessible resource hub for all of our Accelerator participants. They also wanted more support in general business and team management, so we have expanded our core training programme accordingly.”

The accelerator has also introduced a new Virtual Innovator Academy, a digital training resource for all Accelerator participants with innovative tools and on-demand training courses, as well as tips and tricks to help founders master their daily challenges.

With the September intake, Merck is also expanding its training programme – startups will now have access to a wider range of tailored courses and workshops, including seminars like “Team Dynamics”.

As in previous rounds, the teams in Nairobi and Darmstadt will have the option to extend their acceleration period via a month-long residency in Silicon Valley. This opportunity allows the startups to test and prove their business model in the United States as well.

The programs in both Darmstadt and Nairobi will start on September 4, 2017, and will end on December 15, 2017. The application period will run until June 26, 2017, via the accelerator website. Owing to the number of highly qualified applications in the last intake, Merck has decided to expand both its Darmstadt, Germany, and Nairobi, Kenya, programs. Each program will take on one more team than in the last cycle; Darmstadt will now have five teams, and Nairobi will take on four.

M-TIBA hits 500k users, surpasses over Ksh 100m in medical payouts since its launch


Mobile health insurance firm M-TIBA has today announced it has registered over 500,000 users on its mobile health platform, allowing users to send, save, receive and pay for healthcare services using their mobile phones.

The firm added it has recorded over 60,000 clinic visits and over Sh. 100,000,000 million in medical payouts since its launch in September last year and has a growing network of over 350 M-TIBA healthcare facilities across the country. M-TIBA says it sees over 4,000 people sign ups a day.

According to Kees van Lede, Chief Executive Officer, CarePay Ltd, the firm behind M-Tiba, “Hitting the half a million mark is a first milestone in rolling out M-TIBA across Kenya. By restricting the funds in the platform’s individual wallets to healthcare only, people have more money available when struck with illness. It is encouraging to see a gradual reduction in out-of-pocket expenses. This is an important step towards greater healthcare inclusion.”

M-TIBA users can save funds into their own wallets, accessing them quickly in the event of sickness, or to pay for preventive care. They can receive money from caregivers and donors, who can be certain that the money will be used for health only. This means less time for an illness to progress and a quicker return to health and productivity.

With over 60,000 clinic visits and over Sh. 100,000,000 million in medical payouts,  and over 350 M-TIBA healthcare facilities across the country, the M-TIBA is the biggest mobile health insurance platform in Africa. Facility sign up teams are currently in Nyanza and Western.

Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom, an M-TIBA partner said, “The growth in M-TIBA users has surpassed our expectations. The majority of Kenyans are excluded from mainstream health insurance schemes. M-TIBA empowers them to take care of their own healthcare and rollover their savings from month to month. It is providing long term benefits to individual customers and the entire healthcare sector.”


MyDawa.com, Kenya’s first online store for prescription drugs goes live


Set to launch on 28th March 2017 in Nairobi, MyDawa aims to be the country’s first online store allowing Kenyans to purchase authentic prescription drugs, health and wellness products as well as offer them value for money as it does not charge any service fees, transaction or delivery costs.

Coined from My and Dawa which is Swahili for Medicine to mean My Medicine, MYDawa features a unique track and trace mechanism that consumers can use to verify authenticity of products from source, while offering convenience and privacy to the consumer.

It’s actually not the very first as 88mph-backed Drugs.co.ke tried and failed. We think the biggest problem was regulation as its illegal to sell prescription drugs online in Kenya and we don’t know how MyDawa will pull this off.

According to Neil O’Leary Founder- MyDawa, “I believe in a world where digital technology is an enabler of a better life. Globally, Kenya is seen as a leader in innovation and we aim to harness it in delivering high quality healthcare products, safely, conveniently and affordably. We chose Kenya for this because the environment here is right. Kenyans are not afraid to tackle problems and adopt solutions that fit their needs. Look at the example of the MPesa, a world leading innovation with ever growing relevance 10years after inception.”

MYDAWA aims to bridge the gaps between healthcare providers and patients thus improving quality and cost of care.

As part of its pre-launch activities MYDAWA is carrying out a series of educational workshops with healthcare professionals Doctors, Clinical Officers, Pharmacists, and Pharmaceutical Technologists.

Merck Accelerator announces 3 startups to join its program in Nairobi


Merck Accelerator has announced the three startups that will join its programme in Nairobi this season.

The three aim to help solve healthcare problems by  fighting drug counterfeiting with AI, using medical records to predict and detect diseases early, and using data management to improve global health supply chains.

One of the startups, Peach, is a cloud-based medical records system for hospitals and healthcare providers in developing countries which was initially developed during the Merck KGaA Health + Innovation Hackathon Accra.

Medical records are often hardly transportable to other places. Important patient medical records get lost easily, and can result in missing the detection or prediction of diseases. Peach, headed up by Cobby Amoah, Qwame Akpalu, Oteng Kwame Appiah Nti and Charles Kunene, are developing a cloud-based and scalable software platform to collect, store and access the healthcare information of patients.

Peach will help community health officers to find all the information they need to detect complications in time, anywhere, at any time.

The second startup to join the Merc Nairobi Accelerator is
RxAll, from New Haven, US. RxAll addresses the proliferation of counterfeit drugs which results in about 100 000 deaths in Africa every year as pharmacists often don’t have the means to test whether a medicine is fake or not.

The RxAll team, led by Adebayo Alonge, is developing an AI platform that aims to solve this problem. Pharmacies will be able to authenticate medicines through the platform, which uses deep learning to improve spectrometer readings in the field, providing real-time feedback about changes in drugs. In addition, the pharmacies can order the medicines directly through a digital procurement platform from the manufacturers.

The third startup is Secure Data Kit (SDK), a data platform that helps global health providers relieve suffering.

SDK is led by Atlanta based Jared Malan and is focused on making data collection, data storage, and data sharing simple. SDK enables donor programs to capture disparate datasources and manage the complexity of a global supply chain. Donors are able to view the effectiveness of their programs in realtime through customizable metrics, reports, and workflow diagrams. Secure Data Kit is used by leading Global Health organizations and pharmaceutical companies.

Winners of The AMREF Innovate For Life Hackathon Announced


A report by the World Health Organization (WHO) says that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of Maternal Deaths per 100,000 live births adding that Sierra Leone leads the pack with an estimated 1,100 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Meanwhile, for child mortality, the WHO says that the risk of a child dying before completing 5 years of age in Africa, is one of the highest in the world. It is an average of  81 deaths per 1000 live births.

This was why  AMREF Health Africa in collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Nailab introduced the Innovate For Life Hackathon to help curb the Maternal and child mortality rates in Africa and across the globe.

Innovative solutions were submitted by techpreneurs, midwives, doctors, and entrepreneurs among others from across the continent.

At the expiration of the deadline for submission of entries, a total of 117 pitches were received and 15 entries were selected after a rigorous vetting process.

The selected 15 were further pruned to three at a two-day hackathon held between 7th and 8th of March at the Amref Health Africa Headquarters in Nairobi. The three were declared winners of the hackathon. They are Chanjo Plus from Kenya, Wekebere from Uganda and HelpMum from Nigeria.

These startups will now go through an acceleration program in their countries of operation, which will be coordinated by Nailab. In addition to this, winners will work with mentors, receive training and coaching on different business support services as well as have access to 300,000 Kenyan Shilling seed capital.


YAPILI raising $32K to connect patients to physicians globally


Patient-doctor marketplace YAPILI is seeking to raise $32,000 (30,000 Euros) to launch its pilot version free of charge for first 100 users in Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe for a period of 6 months.

The platform which connects users to licensed physicians locally and internationally has turned to crowdfunding to bolster its patient to doctor platform in a move expected to reach out to the larger audience to help connect 1000 new users to a licensed doctor at hand, anywhere in the world.

Specifically, YAPILI says it will use the funds  to expand its team to onboard more users and doctors, build an Android App, up the security of health data storage, develop a matching algorithm to connect users with doctors and collaborate with data scientists for a Big Data framework.

According to the firm, for only € 30 a contributor can give a man or a woman unlimited access to a doctor on-line for 6 months. Yapili’s competition is Medx.
Check out the campaign

Johnson & Johnson launches new hub in Kenya to develop vaccines & devices


Johnson and Johnson, a manufacturer of healthcare products, has had a major shift in market strategy by setting up an operations hub for East Africa in Nairobi. The firm will set up its consumer, medical device, pharmaceutical departments in Nairobi, Kenya.

The East African office becomes the third one after the Ghana office was launched on Tuesday this Week. The other office is in South Africa.

According to the company’s Group Chairman Europe, Middle East and Africa  Jane Griffiths, the Nairobi hub would  be key to developing new vaccines and devices  that deliver better treatment for health issues unique to the region.

“Having a foot in the region will allow us to better understand the realities and the challenges specific to East Africa and come up with solutions and partnerships which best addresses the issues”, said Ms. Griffiths.

Johnson &Johnsons already developed an ebola vaccine and that  that they had also developed a drug for the drug-resistant strain of TB.

“The opening of the new Johnson & Johnson office will play a major role in supporting our goal of helping to improve the quality of and access to healthcare in the region, while showcasing a model that can be replicated across Africa,” said Vittorio Sereni, Country Manager of the Johnson & Johnson office in Nairobi. “We are building a talented team that will lead the expansion of our product portfolio and continue to provide responsive, comprehensive care solutions to meet the evolving health issues that impact patients and health care providers here.”

Building on the company’s 86-year history in Africa, Johnson & Johnson will work in Kenya to support efforts to deliver innovative treatments, diagnostic technologies and service delivery models that address a variety of patient needs. While helping to strengthen national health systems and build research and development capabilities among Kenyan researchers as well as leverage its capabilities in advocacy to partner with local governments, NGOs and CBOs to meet the region’s evolving health care needs.

Jane Griffiths, Company Group Chairman EMEA for Janssen, one of the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson. “Our team in Kenya will continue to support the efforts of NGOs and health care providers and seek opportunities to innovate through partnerships involving research collaboration, health education and vaccine development.”

Through innovation, collaboration and local engagement Johnson and Johnson aims to cultivate Africa’s innovation, expand R&D skills and capacity among African scientists, catalyze healthcare infrastructure investments, enhance collaboration with local health delivery partners, boost education and training resources for healthcare workers, enhance African youth to thrive and become drivers of change and improve access to medicines.