How new tech can propel Africa to the forefront of healthcare


 “Health systems in Africa are rapidly developing and the fourth Industrial Revolution in healthcare could take hold,” writes Patrice Matchaba from Novartis in a blog post on the World Economic Forum’s website. Many African governments aim to establish universal health coverage based on an equitable primary care system - while also developing a high-quality medical system that encourages people to manage their own health. Healthcare systems in highly industrialised countries mostly focus on costly secondary and tertiary care, emphasizing treatment rather than prevention. African countries have an opportunity to develop a strong preventive approach by conducting, for example, massive high-tech driven campaigns against parasitic diseases, malaria chemoprophylaxis and prophylactic antiretroviral medication to prevent HIV infection. The high-tech revolution is already underway. Rather than waiting in crowded hospitals, mobile services at the community-level are being developed. Mobile devices and telemedicine already support community nurses at the village level. For example, Rwanda recently incorporated drone technology into its system for delivering blood for transfusions. Rwanda is also using low-tech solutions to promote health. “Kigali has a car-free day every month to promote prevention and wellness through walking and cycling. Few European or American cities have been able to achieve this,” writes Matchaba.