What COVID-19 has Exposed & Digital Technology in Africa’s Healthcare

The quick reaction by many African governments to close borders, enforce curfews and social distancing measures in following WHO recommendations could be the reason why the continent has been spared the wrath of COVID-19.

Dr. Muhoro, Senior Medical Advisor, Novartis

These were remarks by Dr. Muhoro, Senior Medical Advisor, Novartis during a discussion on the state of Africa’s healthcare systems, the impact of COVID-19 and why ehealth is becoming the next normal at a webinar yesterday.

The session which brought together a panel drawing from the Medical insurance, Pharmaceuticals, an eHealth startup and medical practitioners, offered a deep dive into what the experience has been for the last 6 months for the medical fraternity, and how they are re-thinking their operations and business model. 

From making the decision to cover the testing and treatment of COVID-19, which most medical insurance providers declined, to running an online pharmacy and choosing the subsidize the cost of COVID-19 testing equipment when most saw it as an opportunity to make a killing, we got to hear from Johari Maluki of MyDawa, David Obonyo of Britam, Ralph Oluwole of Helium Health and Dr. Muhoro.

We picked some of the key highlights from the discussions, we recommend that you watch the full video below

On Healthcare in Kenya

  • There is a huge divide in the geographical distribution of healthcare facilities in Kenya. With 70% living within the rural areas. most often have to travel to the cities for healthcare. 
  • 90% of medical institutions well-equiped to handle cancer are in the cities which locks out 70% Kenyans who have to deal with ill equipment facilities in the county governments.  This contributes to a high mortality rate for terminal illnesses.
  • Kenya lacks universal health care. Unlike countries such as Botswana, most middle-class Kenyans are one disease away from poverty. 
  • Human resources are still very far in achieving the required Doctor to patient ratio. Much of this is due to Kenya’s lack of adherence to the Abuja declaration which recommends that requires 15% of the country’s budget go towards health spend.
  • There has been a lack of coordination between the national and country in providing proper communication and equipment to deal with COVID-19. This means that with the pandemic spreading to counties, government hospitals are ill-equipped on  ICU, ventilators and bed capacity.
Johari Maluki from MyDawa on the webinar session

What COVID-19 exposed and left in its wake

  • Most African countries except Sierra Leone were and still are ill equipped to deal with pandemics
  • A huge economic divide as most can no longer  afford proper  healthcare especially in countries that lack universal healthcare
  • A rise in self-care and telemedicine which has come with a lot of benefits in providing a convenient and cost-effective way to get a diagnosis and prescribed drugs.
  • Mental wellness has become a real issue. The  toll  it has taken on to health workers is of concern in guaranteeing the quality of health care delivery
  • Insurance companies have had to go an extra mile to ensure the wellbeing of their customers who are at home. There’s been a bigger call for innovation in order to continue giving value

The silver lining

  • Although medical Doctors previously used to dread patients who came armed with Dr. Google, they have come to appreciate an empowered patient. The medical fraternity is now seeing more empowerment and willingness by patients to experiment which though commendable, can end up being a double-edged sword
  • Britam made the decision to provide additional cover for COVID-19. They are keen to change the notion of self-care and have been running various initiatives on this.
David Obonyo from Britam on the Webinar

Digital technology in Healthcare

  • Technology has greatly helped in; increasing access into regional expansion where healthcare is really needed in the rural areas yet most of the resources are concentrated in the cities, providing the convenience of home deliveries and in improving transparency.
  • Most of My Dawa’s traffic lately has been coming through from Whatsapp, this presents a challenge and thus a need to provide security and confidentiality throughout the customer journey
  • As the healthcare fraternity is grappling with how to make payment options available and accessible to patients in an easy, secure way.
  • Cellulant can play a huge role in the integration of everyday payment methods such as Mobile money (which has really taken off within the health sector),debit/credit and bank transfers.  However, there will be a great need to build capacity and invest in user education to build trust in digital payments for growth and adoption.
  • Cellulant has the regional capacity to help simplify the payment of insurance premiums especially for the cross-border payments through monthly deductions for easy consolidation and reconciliation with the respective insurance companies.
  • Health Insurance providers and customers are looking for a secure platform and the assurance of safe transactions.

If you would like to get more information on how we can help you accept various payment methods either from your website or other customer touchpoints, mail us on; [email protected]. With Cellulant, all you need is one contract and one integration to provide multiple payments options to your customers all across Africa.