54gene launches 7RiverLabs to offer speedy and affordable diagnostic services across Africa


Nigerian health technology company, 54gene has announced the launching of its diagnostic arm. Called 7RiverLabs after the 7 great rivers of Africa, the diagnostic labs are fitted with state-of-the-art technology and is billed to offer world-class, cost-effective, speedy, reliable and advanced molecular diagnostics to healthcare providers and patients.

According to the company, the addressable market for medical tests in Sub-Saharan Africa is currently worth US$10 billion. Sadly, the majority of molecular tests are sent outside of the continent thus leading to capital flight from the continent.

However, if investments were made into this sector, the market could witness an average rate of more than 4% growth per annum. This will be directly linked to affordability, accurate diagnoses and lighting quick turnaround times. 7RiverLabs, formerly known as DiagnoseMe Africa, is positioned to deliver these, not only in Nigeria but across the continent. 

To deliver on these promises and establish itself as a principal provider of diagnostic care driven by ultra-modern technology, 54gene has appointed its Chief Business Officer, Jude Uzonwanne as the interim CEO of 7RiverLabs.

Speaking about the goals of the new company he now heads, the interim CEO said the diagnostic lab is complementing Government and industry efforts to attain the Nigerian Ministry of Health’s mandate towards improved care for the general population.

Hundreds of molecular tests will be made available for millions of people at a fraction of the cost of transporting samples overseas thereby helping to increase early disease-detection and screening rates and save lives.

Jude Uzonwanne, Interim CEO of 7RiverLabs

He noted that this is groundbreaking news for Nigeria. He also expressed his anticipation that hundreds more jobs will be created as the company forges trusted partnerships with leading health insurers, hospitals and healthcare professionals as part of its expansion across Africa.

In September, 54gene closed a $25 million Series B funding round. The funding was expected to help expand its capabilities in sequencing, target identification and validation. The new capital was also set to be deployed for precision medicine clinical trials enabling drug discovery in Africa for both Africans and the global population.

How 7RiverLabs works

According to 54gene, 7RiverLabs sample collection centres are already open in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt. These collection centres boast over 100 employees. More centres are expected to be launched in 10 major Nigerian cities in the coming months as well as Pan-African expansion planned over the course of 2022. 

Image credit: 54gene

Through the use of state-of-the-art laboratories and marked workflow improvements, over 300 critical molecular tests can now be performed safely and securely – covering oncology, infectious diseases, genetic testing and sequencing, anatomic pathology, clinical chemistry, microbiology, haematology as well as communicable and non-communicable diseases. 

With some tests costing as little as a few thousand Naira – generally more affordable than the prevailing market rates – results, depending on the complexity, are provided in as little time as a few hours to a few days and are sent digitally to patients’ physicians for follow-up. 

Speaking on its services, 54gene Founder and CEO Dr Abasi Ene-Obong said 7RiverLabs is a manifestation of one of the goals 54gene set out to achieve two years ago – to improve diagnostic and treatment outcomes on the continent.

“With the range of tests 7RiverLabs offers, millions of Africans can begin to take greater control of their health. Our goal with this new diagnostics arm is to ensure that every African has access to our hubs offering advanced laboratory tests without having to pay an exorbitant out-of-pocket fee. Patients will receive speedy results that will guide their physicians in reducing late diagnoses leading to poor chances of survival, improve their treatment options and ultimately their quality of life,” he said.

Since its launch in 2019, 54gene has driven genomics and molecular medicine throughout Africa. 7RiverLabs is designed to equalise precision medicine for African populations. Building on that vision, 54gene has domesticated diagnostic technology; eliminating the need for samples to be sent abroad for analysis, at a considerable cost to the patient. Physicians will now be able to detect and prevent diseases earlier, thereby helping to improve patients’ treatment outcomes and quality of health.  

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