Following the setbacks occasioned by the pandemic in 2020, the Nigerian tech space really came back to life in 2021. The space looked a lot vibrant with huge fundings getting announced and various startups smashing various records.
The health technology space wasn’t very different. After registering huge gains during the pandemic, the sector has managed to ride on that wave and build on its successes with an outstanding 2021.
Some health technology companies raised some really impressive funding while another was able to expand into overseas markets with a major acquisition. Others still were able to focus on areas of health that not a lot of companies are focusing on.
So below is a list of health technology companies that achieved impressive feats in 2021 and why they are so well-regarded and highly rated.
It is not often that we see companies in struggling economies such as Nigeria buying out the ones in pretty stable and well-to-do countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. But that was exactly what Helium Health did when it acquired Meddy, a Qatar-headquartered and UAE-based doctor booking platform for an undisclosed amount.
That move signalled the company’s expansion into the middle eastern market, a really strange occurrence for an African medical technology company. Speaking on the acquisition, CEO of Helium Health, Adegoke Olubusi, said the company has always been open to strategic acquisition opportunities.
“Our business model has primarily been robust organic growth, but we always remain open to strategic acquisition opportunities. Meddy is an ideal complement to our existing business model; the right company, in the right location, at the right time.Adegoke Olubusi
Founded in 2016 by Adegoke Olubusi, Dimeji Sofowora and Tito Ovia, Helium Health is the largest Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and Hospital Management Information (HMI) Systems provider in West Africa.
It also helps hospitals track analytics, maintain a digital payment system and apply for loans. Furthermore, it allows health facilities to have a telemedicine platform, thus reaching out to patients through virtual means.
Helium Health currently operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Liberia, Kenya and Uganda. It has onboarded more than 500 healthcare facilities. Over 7,000 medical professionals from these facilities now provide care to more than 300,000 patients monthly. Helium Health has raised $12.2m in funding to date.
In 2018, all three of Helium Health Cofounders were recognised by Forbes and included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. The startup has enjoyed a tremendous year.
I’m not sure it’s possible to think of 54 Gene and not think of big things. From expanding its facilities and services to the figures attached to its fundraising, the health technology company has had a very busy 2021.
The startup first stole our hearts when it quickly joined the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Covid-19 testing network in April 2020. this was at the height of the pandemic when many health facilities were trying to avoid the virus as much as possible. The startup conducted tests in Lagos, Ogun and Kano states.
Founded in January 2019 by Abasi Ene-Obong (CEO), Damilola Oni, Gatumi Aliyu and Ogochukwu Francis Osifo, 54Gene offers testing and molecular diagnostics services to Africans. The company currently works with over 300 researchers, clinicians and geneticists across Africa to build and maintain an African biobank.
In September, the company raised $25 million in Series B funding, a sum that is quite outstanding for a health technology company, given the overbearing dominance of fintech in the African tech space. The funding meant 54 Gene now has a total investment of more than $45m in just over 2 years of existence.
Aside from expanding its capabilities in sequencing, target identification and validation, the startup says the new capital raised will also be deployed for precision medicine clinical trials enabling drug discovery in Africa for both Africans and the global population.
To cap off an outstanding year, 54 Gene launched a diagnostic facility, the 7RiverLabs to offer speedy and affordable diagnostic services across Africa. The diagnostic labs are fitted with state-of-the-art technology and are billed to offer world-class, cost-effective, speedy, reliable and advanced molecular diagnostics to healthcare providers and patients.
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
54 Gene was predicted to impact the world of public health and medical science in the 2020’s by TIME. The company looks well on its way to fulfilling all that was predicted of it.
Africa has continued to battle with the problem of counterfeit drugs. While some progress is being made, the problem doesn’t seem to be going away.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 42% of all fake medicines reported to them between 2013 and 2017 were from Africa. Global auditing giant, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) says the proportion of fake pharmaceuticals in some African countries can be as high as 70%,
Chekkit, a Nigerian-based and Africa-focused startup is looking to combat this problem with its tracking and monitoring solution. Founded by Dare Odumade and Jida Asare, the startup focuses on ensuring product integrity across the value chain.
With its blockchain technology, Chekkit is able to monitor premium packaged goods and products through the unique tamper-proof ID it gives to individual products. The startup is able to achieve these with its two solutions: Consumer Intelligence and Supply Chain Tracking.
Through its partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, the startup says it has secured over 7 million pharmaceutical products thus protecting over 200,000 consumers from dangers associated with taking fake drugs.
In August 2021, the startup raised $500,000 in a pre-seed round. The fund will be used to further strengthen its anti-counterfeiting and consumer engagement solutions as well as building robust supply chain tracking and infrastructural optimisation technologies in order to directly protect up to 100 million lives across the globe.
While there’s a burgeoning health technology space in Nigeria and while many players in that space have gone on to do impressive things, it isn’t hard to notice that most of them are focused on physical wellbeing. Only very few are focused on the more delicate aspect of mental health, an ever-growing problem in Nigeria and Africa at large.
With more than a quarter of the Nigerian population suffering from one form of mental health challenge or the other, Nguvu Health is deploying its solutions in the fight against this malady.
Having launched its mental health care solution across Africa, the startup, which prides itself as an e-mental health company, is looking to provide on-demand online therapy sessions to Africans anywhere in the world.
See also: ‘We want to normalise mental health care’-Nguvu Health CEO, Joshua Koya talks about his startup
With fewer than 10% of mentally ill Nigerians having access to the care they need, and with the country boasting less than 150 psychiatrists, the startup helps to provide easy access to affordable therapy sessions to users from the comfort of their smartphones.
Founded by Joshua Koya (CEO) and Tolulope Ogunjuyigbe, the startup has the ambition to have onboarded 1,000 therapists from across Africa onto its platform by the end of 2021. Nguvu Health was selected into the Google for Startups Accelerator and we expect really big things from the startup in the coming years.
In Nigeria, caring for the elderly is usually a duty of the younger members of the family. While there are a number of old people’s homes and care centres especially in the major cities, committing our aged to these homes and subscribing to their services are, however, not yet a culture in Nigeria.
But a Nigerian startup is trying to fix all that. As its name might have already implied, GeroCare is a startup focused on geronts or old people.
Gerocare is focused on providing access to quality and affordable healthcare for adults and the elderly in Nigeria. The service is particularly useful for people who are living away from their elderly family members but want to make sure that medical doctors visit them regularly.
Founded in 2017 by Ebi Ofrey (CEO), Ajibola Meraiyebu (COO), and Bruce Lucas (CTO), the startup has different plans which range from 3 doctor visits per person per quarter for N30,000 to 12 doctor visits per person per year for N100,000.
GeroCare is one of the few health technology companies doing something quite unique through its focus on the elderly. It was also accepted into the 2021 batch of the Google for Startups Accelerator program.
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