What we learned at Africa Healthcare Week 2018


Healthcare Nova

Africa’s brightest healthcare brains from the public, private and NGO sectors – and a lot of
salespeople – flocked to London this week for Africa Healthcare Week, the largest
healthcare event about the continent outside of the region. Healthcare Nova was there.
Here are four of the things we learned from the two-day conference.
If you want UHC, you start by tackling primary and community care – and the private
sector can get involved
Many African nations have a national strategic plan to achieve Universal Health Coverage
by 2030, but the overarching theme from day one was the impossibility of that task without
first ensuring robust and accessible primary care. The private sector has tended to leave it
to NGOs and the charity sector, instead focusing on higher-end areas with better margins.
And as Pape Amadou Gaye, CEO of IntraHealth International, says: “Volunteerism is nice
but not fair.”
It doesn’t have to be that way. US non-profit Sanford Health has been investing significantly
in primary care clinics in Ghana and seeks break-even as eagerly as a for-profit would,
while GE Healthcare has announced an agreement with NGO Amref to develop primary
and community health service collaborations in Ethiopia, across a range of specialities
including maternity, post-natal, paediatrics, non-communicable diseases and preventive
public health.
Massive opportunities lie at the other end of the care spectrum
Having said that, in some geographies, the opposite problem has also been seen. In
Nigeria, for example, the private sector has shied away from entering the high-end tertiary
care space, which has led to a lack of quality provision and the exodus of US$1bn in health
spending from either the capital or the entire country, depending on who you ask.
Dr Olujimi Coker, medical director at Lagoon Hospitals, part of the large HMO Hygeia, says
that the country has only one linear accelerator. He repeated what other local contacts tell
us about an over-abundance of secondary hospitals in Lagos, and points out that it might
actually be no more difficult to get larger loans from bodies like the IFC than smaller. Above
a certain threshold the process stops becoming more demanding: “The same work goes
into approving a US$10m loan as does a US$100m one.”
Coker quipped that capturing even 10% of that outbound market “wouldn’t be bad for you
as an investor!”.
One size does not fit all.
You need to adapt your approach to working on the continent, even if you have a 100-plusyear-
old modus operandi. One common theme that we hear from contacts who’ve entered
Africa, and emerging markets in general, is the need to train locally to ensure there is the
expertise to accompany investment. A great example came up at the conference when GE
Healthcare Africa CEO Farid Fezoua told us that when selling its V-scan ultrasound
technology in Ghana it trained midwives as there was often no gynaecologistist in the rural
communities it was targeting.
“This [training] was never our business model originally: we sell technology. If you look at
15 years ago in GE Healthcare we sold it and if people could use it, fine, if people couldn’t,
that wasn’t our problem! We completely shifted our model in Africa because we had to.”
A new friendliness to the private sector is obvious from the rhetoric – but let’s see if
action follows
Ministers of health from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique spoke in a panel
session on “Investment Opportunities and Progress in African Health” where the message
to the private sector was clear: come and invest your capital. The Zambian minister praised
the country’s established regulatory framework around PPPs, in place since the 1990s.
This builds on the message delegates received at AHBS II in November, which was
“governments taking the private sector seriously” according to one delegate and hospital

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Cameron Murray
or call 0207 183 3779.

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A new start-up digital healthcare company is changing the healthcare narrative for developing countries by capitalizing on the internet & mobile phone revolution. 

Mobihealth International is positioning to revolutionise access to quality healthcare services in Africa through its One-stop platform - the first of its kind in Africa - for people to access immediate medical help anytime, anywhere from a mobile phone. Mobihealth is building a global database of 100k Medical experts licensed to practice in the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, Africa, UAE, Asia and other carefully selected countries of the world who will consult with patients through its robust telemedicine and EHR platform. The video platform is suitable for all bandwidths.

Mobihealth offers video consultation to patients from the comfort of their home, anywhere, anytime, free medicines, investigations, hospital referrals as well as the cost of hospital treatment through a subscription plan that requires no co-pay or further out of pocket payment. Over time, services will include home health visits by trained professionals, home delivery of medications, messaging services to confirm appointment bookings for laboratory tests, hospital referrals or pick up of medication at a pharmacy nearest to the patient. 

In a continent of over one billion people with more than 95% having no form of health insurance, telemedicine is the choice of the future and a growing sector. Innovative remote monitoring software/devices are also to be used by Mobihealth physicians to aid in diagnosing patient problems.

Ahead of the launch of Mobihealth, a discussion was held during a visit to HE Ambassador Adesola Oguntade at the Nigerian High Commission on January 31st 2018. Mobihealth Founder and CEO, Dr Funmi Adewara a NHS Physician and Cambridge Trained Bioscience Entrepreneur said ‘’It is untenable for Africa to continue to lose millions of lives to preventable causes when digital revolution bodes well for the adoption of telemedicine. Our vision is an African continent that is self-sufficient with low-disease burden and healthier citizenry’’. Our niche is ensuring that our patients can access quality healthcare when they need it and in the most cost effective and time efficient manner. Affordability remains a huge barrier to access and on their own, many may not be able to access these medical experts, but our shared risk model enables this to become a reality. It will allow doctors to work from home and at times most suitable for them. Ultimately it is a win-win situation for all.

Chief Business Development Officer Dr Amit Sra, a medical doctor with over a decade of NHS experience having worked in elite institutions such as St Thomas' London and the Medical Director of a private medical institute in Harley Street, London, said this platform allows a complete continuum of care through telemedicine, connecting people in developing countries to our global database of medical experts 24/7, 365 days of the year from the comfort of their home, offices or schools. In a highly digitalized world, there is no sector where connectivity is more needed than healthcare. We aim to reduce traffic to healthcare facilities, improve time to diagnosis and treatment and reduce the pressure on healthcare infrastructures. We provide prescription services, order and book investigations and send email/sms confirmation of appointments to patients. Patients who need hospital referrals will be referred to medical experts at a suitable location for further evaluation and with treatment through an annual subscription plan, no further payment is needed - this is a game changer!

Our vision is to expand into Asia and the Middle East. Our model is highly scalable and replicable in many other countries said Mr Gary Borland, Mobihealth’s Chief Operating Officer, a former Managing Director of two large, complex services businesses, an RAF pilot and Senior Strategy and Leadership Consultant who has a considerable breadth of diverse international experience across military, government, private and charitable sectors

Following a successful launch of the Mobihealth’s Patient and Doctors apps on Play store, App store and Apple watch last week and a live demonstration for the Nigerian High Commissioner and his team on 27th Feb 2018, Mobihealth’s platform has been endorsed and recommended as a major step towards resolving many of the challenges of the African healthcare market.  The demonstration showed the incredible potential for reducing the strain on the healthcare sector and reaching those unable to access medical help.   

Dr Funmi Adewara stated “ Mobihealth is the e-Health platform that Africans require and has already received approaches from other African nations to implement into their healthcare structures”. 

How we're fighting antimicrobial resistance in South Africa

HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have claimed too many South African lives.

Today, defeating these diseases is a national priority, with the mission of the latest National Strategic Plan to get our country on track to eliminate them as public health threats by the year 2030. But what happens when the treatments we use to fight them no longer work?

South Africa's biggest AMR problem

This is a reality for many people who are already living with drug-resistant strains of many common infections. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi evolve and become able to survive in the face of drugs designed to cure or prevent the infections they cause.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that an estimated 19 000 people in South Africa developed drug-resistant TB in 2016. Indeed, multi-drug resistant TB is South Africa’s biggest AMR problem – one caused by multiple factors, including inadequate diagnostic coverage, medicine stockouts and patient adherence challenges.

But it’s not only TB. Treatments for HIV and STIs, malaria, and gastro-intestinal, urinary tract, and respiratory tract infections are all under threat. Bacterial infections that are resistant to multiple drugs are commonplace in South African hospitals.

People with these infections face longer, more uncomfortable treatment regimens and have a lower likelihood of survival. Often, it is high-risk and vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women and people with HIV, that suffer the most.

Incorrect use of treatments

Vanessa Carter was infected with an extensive MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infection following a car accident in Johannesburg. “I had never heard of this superbug before, but as I became more informed, I learnt that the bacteria causing infection in my face had become resistant to the antibiotics that were meant to heal me.”

One culprit in the rapid spread of AMR is the incorrect use of treatments, particularly in the case of viral infections. Every time a doctor prescribes – or a patient demands – a treatment based purely on symptoms, rather than on the results of a diagnostic test, the likelihood of perpetuating the spread of resistance increases.

Common colds are often the result of a viral infection, which will not respond to antibiotics; there’s no point in prescribing them to treat a cold. Another problem is the lack of prevention and infection control measures to limit transmission of resistant infections.

Carter, lucky to have survived her MRSA infection, is now an activist and founder of Health Care Social Media South Africa. She emphasises the need to change the way medicines are used, explaining that “we have to treat antibiotics and other antimicrobial medications as the precious resource they are. World health leaders have described antibiotic-resistant microorganisms as nightmare bacteria that pose a catastrophic threat to people in every country in the world, and South Africa is not exempt.”

Indeed, the global impact of AMR could be devastating. Estimates suggest that by 2050 it could result in 10 million deaths per year across the globe and, according to the World Bank, have an economic impact that rivals the 2008 financial crisis.

According to Miriam Schneidman, the World Bank’s Lead Health Specialist in the Africa region, low- and middle-income countries will suffer the most. “Estimates have found that low-income countries could lose more than 5% of their GDP and an added 28 million people could fall into extreme poverty by 2050 under a high impact AMR scenario. AMR can impede our ability to meet our poverty and global development goals.”

Can South Africa lead the way?

With our vast experience in HIV and TB, can South Africa lead the way out of this scenario? The government has taken steps in the right direction. In 2015, the Department of Health published the Antimicrobial Resistance National Strategy Framework for South Africa, and our healthcare leaders continue to engage local and international organisations on this crucial topic.

On 30 January 2018, the South African Medical Research Council and my organisation, FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics), jointly hosted an international conference in Khayelitsha, Cape Town – the first ever in the township – focusing on the role of diagnostic tests in inhibiting the spread of AMR in South Africa and beyond. This location underlined the importance of listening to and learning from front-line healthcare providers and their patients if we are to win the battle against AMR.

Clinicians and laboratory experts spoke alongside representatives from the South Africa Department of Health, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Right to Care, Médecins Sans Frontières, private sector companies and others about the role of diagnostics in optimising the use of antibiotics, protecting novel medicines and facilitating efforts to track the spread of resistance.

Affordable, accessible tests

One of the key issues is the lack of affordable, rapid diagnostics for key infections, which are optimised for use in low-resource settings. Following the meeting, we published an “agenda for action”, noting that “lack of diagnostic capacity impedes antibiotic stewardship”.

WHO agrees. “Diagnostics are at the heart of the fight against AMR. Countries need affordable, accessible tests that can guide treatment for diseases like drug resistant TB or that can determine if childhood fevers are caused by bacterial agents and therefore merit use of antibiotics,” says Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General (Programmes) at WHO.

“We need more research and investment to develop these tools, and need to make sure they are linked to robust surveillance systems that cut across national borders.”

South Africa continues to lead research that will counter AMR, including the identification and implementation of new diagnostics. New partnerships, such as the freshly inked collaboration between SAMRC and FIND, play an important and urgent role in facilitating research and development, health systems strengthening and advocacy across the country, the region and beyond.

Heidi Albert is Head of FIND South Africa, an NGO that enables the development and use of diagnostic tests for communicable diseases affecting low- and middle-income countries.

Views expressed are not necessarily those of GroundUp, News24 or Health24.

Heidi Albert

Tanzania: How NGO Hopes to Help Tanzania Tackle Infertility

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says cases of infertility are still too high in Africa, and the developing world generally. It notes that one in every four couples faces the infertility problem. Tanzania is no exception. It's one of the countries in the so-called 'African Infertility Belt' that also includes Uganda.

In trying to get to the bottom of the problem, 'The Citizen' Health Reporter Syriacus Buguzi talks to Dr Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, an organisation advocating measures to control infertility in East Africa:

I have read about your role in building healthcare capacity in Tanzania, but one thing that stands out is what Merck Foundation is doing to deal with infertility. Why infertility? And what's the situation in Tanzania?

In many parts of Africa, there is still stigma against those who suffer infertility, and women are the ones mainly blamed. They suffer discrimination, abuse and physiological and physical violence from their husbands and in-laws. This is despite the fact that 50 per cent of the causes of infertility are due to male factor.

According to WHO, infertility has a high incidence in developing countries; almost one in every four couple has infertility. Around 85 per cent of infertility cases are due to untreated infectious diseases, which result from unsafe abortion, unsafe delivery, female genital mutation, child marriage, and STDs.

Hence, awareness about prevention and management is very critical, and this is one of the main pillars of our 'Merck More Than a Mother' strategy.

As a scientist and advocate in this aspect, what are the main reasons women are infertile in Tanzania?

As mentioned earlier, there can be many reasons for infertility in women, but women's infertility is not the only reason for the failure in conceiving in couples, male factors contribute about around 50 per cent of the causes. Therefore, we call upon all men to support their wives and share the journey of the family building together. Fertility is a shared responsibility.

What does your campaign involve? For how long has it been advocated in Tanzania and who, specifically in the country, has benefitted from it?

In some cultures, women still suffer discrimination, stigma, and ostracism. An inability to have a child or to become pregnant can result in being greatly isolated, disinherited or assaulted. This often results in divorce or physical and psychological violence.

'Merck More Than a Mother' initiative aims to empower such infertile women through access to information, education, health, and change of mindset. Through this programme, we want to give every woman the respect and help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. If given an opportunity every woman can become a productive part of the society, as the name suggests a woman can be 'More Than a Mother.'

In Tanzania, we started our programme at the end of 2017. So, we will be able to share the stories of infertile women in Tanzania and bring positive change in their lives in 2018. But this is just the beginning we have a long way to go.

We are also providing clinical and practical training to seven embryologists and a fertility specialist from Tanzania out of more than 40 from across Africa and Asia.

At some point, Merck Foundation announced it was establishing East Africa's first ever public hospital to offer in vitro fertilisation (IVF). How far has this initiative gone and how are women in Tanzania set to benefit from this?

Merck Foundation is committed to building professional fertility care capacity as in many African countries where there are no embryologists or fertility specialists. The foundation is creating history in these countries by training the first fertility specialists such as in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, guinea and Chad and Niger.

We also partnered with Uganda's ministry of Health to train personnel at their first public IVF clinic, which is built to provide services for entire East Africa, including Tanzania. We will also do the initiative in Tanzania, and are going to offer a unique clinical and technical training for the first public IVF in Tanzania like we did in Ethiopia. Merck Foundation is making history in many countries in Africa through our 'Merck More Than a Mother' campaign.

There have been complaints that here in East Africa, the cost of treatment for infertility in private hospitals is too high and that most patients cannot afford. Apart from the initiatives you are investing in to solve this, what's your advice to public health authorities in Tanzania on how they can help low-income families to deal with infertility?

Yes, currently the cost of treatment for fertility is very high, and this is due to the massive gap in demand and supply of fertility care in Africa. In East Africa, there are very few skilled embryologists, and fertility specialists and most of them are in the private sector, and the demand for fertility treatment is very high, much more than supply, which leads to increase in the cost of fertility treatment.

The 'Merck More Than a Mother' initiative has collaborated with Asian fertility experts to create a platform for stand alone embryologists in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through our 'Merck Embryology and Fertility Specialists Training Programme,' healthcare providers from Sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania are experiencing hands-on training in India, Indonesia, and in Russia and China in the future.

So far, seven candidates from Tanzania have benefitted, and we're going to train more doctors in embryology.

What areas of science and technology has the organisation invested in, in Tanzania? And how is this positively impacting lives?

At Merck Foundation, we strive to improve the health and well-being of people through science and technology. It's the core ideology of Merck and Merck Foundation.

In Tanzania, through our 'Merck Oncology Fellowship Programme,' we have trained the first medical oncologist from Tanzania, Dr Cristina Malichewe at The Tata Memorial Hospital, India. Every day, she is impacting her patients' lives, and through her, we are transforming people's lives in Tanzania. We are planning to train another four doctors through a one-year and two-year medical oncology fellowship programme in India and Malaysia.

Through the Merck Diabetes and Hypertension awards, we are granting a one-year postgraduate diploma in Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine or Diabetes Management in, United Kingdom. So far, two medical practitioners have been awarded from Tanzania.

As informed earlier, we're going to train more embryologists and fertility specialists to establish the first public IVF in Tanzania. So, again, this is just the beginning of our programmes in Tanzania.

How different are you from other organisations that work with the government in boosting healthcare capacity?

At Merck Foundation, we know that everything starts with the community, where everyone can lead a healthy and fulfilling life. I strongly believe that building capacity is the right strategy to improving access to quality and equitable healthcare since the lack of professional skills is a critical challenge in Tanzania.

We also want to raise awareness by building advocacy and supporting policymakers to define policies and regulations that improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions.

I am pleased that I am the CEO of Merck Foundation. They believe in playing an important role in building capacity. I have a special passion for this vision, and as a pharmacist and most in importantly as an African woman who believes in the enormous potential of Africa and African people.

South Africa still has four critical gaps to fill before it sees the end of AIDS


South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV in the world. It accounts for up to one third of new HIV infections globally. 

In 2016 there were an estimated 7.1 million people living with HIV In the same year close to 10 million people were tested for HIV.

But huge strides are being made in line with the country adopting the UNAIDS’ 90-90-90 strategy. Under the plan the aim is for:

90% of all HIV positive people to know their HIV status

90% of people who know their HIV status to be on treatment, and

90% of those on treatment to have suppressed viral loads by 2020. Viral suppression is when a person’s viral load – or the amount of virus in an HIV-positive person’s blood – is reduced to an undetectable level.

South Africa has made tremendous progress towards meeting the 90-90-90 targets. In 2016, South Africa’s National Aids Council estimated that 86% of all HIV positive people in the country knew their HIV status, 65% of the those who knew their HIV status were taking antiretroviral therapy and 85% of those taking antiretroviral therapy were virally suppressed.

To complete the last leg South Africa has four important things to do. It must address the gaps in HIV testing; it must start people on antiretroviral treatment and make sure that they remain on it; it must ensure that people maintain virological suppression and, lastly, it must strengthen its strategies around prevention.

All these areas have challenges that may prevent South Africa from taking the last few steps to meet the target.

The challenges
The HIV testing: the country’s guidelines recommend that all adults are tested for HIV at least once a year. Groups that are at a higher risk of being infected should be tested every three to six months.

But HIV testing programmes show that certain groups are tested much less than this. For example, a significant proportion of men go untested as do adolescents, young people, and men-who-have-sex-with-men.

To narrow this gap and increase access to HIV testing and treatment, community and workplace based HIV testing and counselling should be strengthened and HIV self–tests should be improved.

Antiretroviral treatment: this is the most powerful tool in South Africa’s response to HIV. Treatment has reduced illness and death from a peak of 325 000 in 2005 to 126 000 AIDS related deaths in 2016 as well as the number of new infections at population level in some settings.

And improvements are being implemented all the time. For example, last year amendments to the national treatment programme meant that all HIV positive people could receive ARVs regardless of their CD4 count.

But there are still disparities in starting treatment particularly among men, young people, female sex workers and other key populations. These groups are more likely to start treatment late in the course of HIV infection.

Community based ART initiation as well as high quality client-centred HIV care and treatment services will be essential to address these gaps.

Suppressing the virus: staying on HIV care and maintaining viral suppression is essential if the 90-90-90 targets are going to be met.

But in South Africa there are still high numbers of people who stop taking treatment and attending care. People stop taking their medication for lots of reasons. The reasons range from being pregnant at start of ART or having a low CD4 count at entry into care, a lack of disclosure of HIV status, and inflexible clinic hours.

The national HIV care and treatment programme has recommendedvarious strategies to improve adherence to medication and these are being implemented across the country. These include clinic visits to help monitor people on treatment as well as community based adherence clubs and peer groups. Another has been the recommendation that chronic medicines are delivered through private pharmacies.

What is needed are for programmes to better understand and address the provider, individual and community factors which determine why some people living with HIV can remain in care for a long time and why some cannot.

Prevention: Primary prevention focuses on people who are HIV negative and aims to keep them that way. The weapons in the prevention arsenal are diverse and include:

behavioural change (abstinence, reducing the number of sexual partners as well as correct and consistent condom use),

male circumcision,

pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis.

But these interventions vary in effectiveness at population level depending on coverage and for some adherence.

Next steps
By implementing the 90-90-90 strategy South Africa is expecting to reduce the number of new HIV infections dramatically in the next five years. This will involve scaling up a combination HIV prevention interventions as well as maintain high levels of viral suppression and reduce time spent with unsuppressed viral loads. With all this in place the number of new HIV infections is expected to fall from 270 000 in 2016 to less than 100 000 by 2022.

But ending AIDS as a public health threat will require a sustained focus on health promotion by creating conditions that allows communities and individuals to make informed choices regarding HIV prevention, care and treatment - and empowering of communities and individuals to act on those choices.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation contributes $62 million to health projects in Africa


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced their commitment to contribute to the EU's External Investment Plan.

The Gates Foundation will contribute $50 million (€40.9 million) in financing, as well as an additional $12.5 million (€10.2 million) in technical assistance, to investment projects in the health sector in Africa through the EU's framework to improve sustainable investments in Africa.

This pooling of resources is designed to encourage additional private investment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and will allow successful projects to be scaled up more rapidly.

The European Commission welcomes this strong support to its efforts towards sustainable development in Africa, and will match this contribution with another €50 million.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The EU accounts for a third of foreign direct investment into Africa – this is now helping create jobs and growth on both of our continents. But we must do more to improve the business environment and provide a platform for African innovators to grow. This requires the full involvement of the private and philanthropic sectors, and I am grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their much needed engagement. This is an investment in our shared future. Europe's partnership with Africa is one in which we support each other, help each other to prosper and make the world a safer, more stable and more sustainable place to live."

Bill Gates said: "Improving health outcomes allows a society to become more prosperous and productive. There has been a lot of progress in this area in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, but we need to do more to incentivize research and innovation that benefit the poor. It is fantastic that the European Commission, in partnership with African countries, is leading the way in reducing deep-seated inequities in global health. This commitment will create opportunities that will help people lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.”

This new partnership on health follows a first joint initiative with the EU, announced on 12 December 2017 at the One Planet Summit in Paris, to support the development of tools and techniques to benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Through that initiative, the Commission will provide €270 million, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $300 million (€244.7 million), to finance agricultural research to help the world's poorest farmers better adapt to increasingly challenging growing conditions brought about by climate change. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other EU Member States will also take part in this programme.

The European Union and Africa are working together to tackle the common challenges of today, from investing in youth, fostering sustainable development and strengthening peace and security to boosting investment in the African continent, supporting good governance and better managing migration.

The EU's External Investment Plan was adopted in September 2017 to help boost investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood, in particular with a new €1.5 billion European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) Guarantee.

This ambitious initiative supports innovative financial instruments such as guarantees to boost private investment. With an input of €4.1 billion from the EU, it will help mobilise up to €44 billion of private investments by 2020.

Such investments are mainly targeted at improving social and economic infrastructure, for example municipal infrastructure and proximity services, on providing support to small and medium-sized enterprises, and on microfinance and job creation projects, in particular for young people.


Sanofi calls for applications for start-up challenge


Pharmaceutical company Sanofi is calling for entries to the Afric@Tech start-ups challenge targeted at innovators in the medical and healthcare sectors in Africa.

Initiated by Sanofi in all African countries, the challenge seeks to identify and reward the best start-ups in their goal of revolutionising practices in the health sector on the continent.

"For over 50 years, we have been committed to improving access to medicines and healthcare for all African communities and people. We feel it is our responsibility to accompany, develop and shine a light on these talented South African start-ups," says Thibault Crosnier Leconte, country chairman and RX general manager, Sanofi SA.

According to a statement, Africa@Tech comprises three challenges aimed at providing innovative and adapted solutions to improve access to medicine and healthcare in Africa.

The first challenge focuses on new tech solutions for earlier diagnostics of non-communicable diseases, the second challenge focuses on how telemedicine can improve access to healthcare on the continent, and the third challenge deals with solutions that improve the education of health professionals in the field of chronic diseases in Africa.

Once the start-ups have been evaluated, a jury will select those that will participate in the Africa@Tech innovation journey.

The selected start-ups will be able to demonstrate their solutions in front of the audience of Viva Technology. They will also receive financial assistance and individual support from Sanofi, through a system of coaching and mentoring.

The contest is free and open to all South African start-ups. Candidates have until 15 February to submit their applications online.