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Fotolia Private Players in Healthcare and Proparco
While the coronavirus is destabilizing an already fragile African health system, several private health services and innovators supported by Proparco – the private sector arm of Agence Française Développement Group – are taking action to overcome this major health and economic crisis.

In a global pandemic that knows no borders, Africa is no longer spared. Though the crisis is nowhere near as severe as in Europe or the US, the fragility and disparity of African health systems are cause for concern. And alongside the global hunt for precious treatments, are additional risks: some African countries have to contend with counterfeit drugs and medicines. 

Further reading: the special issue of Proparco’s Private Sector & Development magazine on Access to Medicine in Africa 

African HealthTech

Private health providers and services are taking action to address this unprecedented crisis, which is expected to have serious economic and social impacts on the most vulnerable African populations due to the growing global recession. This is particularly the case for start-ups that focus on connected health, where applications and medical devices can transfer and share information to improve the monitoring and care of patients. 

The sector is undergoing nothing short of a revolution. 

One example is the Pass Santé Mousso, an electronic bracelet connected to an application that allows people to carry their personal and medical data on them in the form of jewelry. Created in Côte d’Ivoire in 2018 by the entrepreneur Corinne Maurice Ouattara, it has enjoyed a boom in its use with the current health crisis. “With a group of entrepreneurs and support from the African Development Bank, we plan to turn the Pass into a pre-diagnosis and follow-up tool for Covid-19 patients”, the entrepreneur told Le Monde newspaper. 

In 2019, Ouattara took part in AFD’s Social & Inclusive Business Camp (SIBC) acceleration program, which brings together dozens of social entrepreneurs from all over Africa every year. She shared her experience in Abidjan during a recent event of Choose Africa, the French initiative that aims to earmark €2.5 billion to finance African start-ups and SMEs via AFD Group’s tools.

Private sector solidarity

Emerging in the midst of the health crisis, are other systems connecting patients to the medical sector, like mobile Covid-19 screening equipment by start-up mPharma, which has just been presented to the Noguchi Medical Research Institute of the University of Ghana. Operating in Nigeria, Ghana and Zambia, mPharma is supported by Proparco and the Novastar II impact fund

Further reading: our full article on the mobilization of private health players in Africa

In Kenya, the start-up Ajua (formerly mSurvey), which is specialized in real-time monitoring of consumer opinions and supported by Proparco, has released an informative analysis of the ramifications of the lockdown measures and health policies. 

In Morocco, ODM Group, which has several clinics and diagnosis centers specialized in oncology, took action from the outset, by providing Sidi Moumen Hospital in Casablanca with several respirators and monitors. In 2018, Proparco, with a consortium of investors, took part in the buyout of ODM Group from its shareholders at the time. What has followed has been an increase in the number of cancer diagnosis and treatment consultations in Morocco.