Africa: IFC spurs innovation in East African Healthcare

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has called on health tech innovators to bring their solutions to the East African market to meet the needs of patients and healthcare providers in the region.

New technologies can play a key role in addressing some of the most pressing healthcare challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, including shortages of skilled doctors and nurses, limited health infrastructure and high cost of care. At the same time, the region faces longstanding challenges from infectious diseases, and the rapidly growing burden of non-communicable diseases

“We are mobilising global tech for good by bringing healthcare innovations that transform lives to the markets with greatest need,” said William Sonneborn, senior director of IFC’s Disruptive Technologies and Funds. “Bringing together tech innovators with health care providers improves access, affordability, quality and efficiency for underserved populations”.

The TechEmerge Health programme will match innovators with more than 20 leading private healthcare systems in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia that have already signed up to the programme. The greatest demand lies in new technologies related to patient engagement, clinical records and data analytics, point of care diagnostic tools and quality management.

IFC will provide support to health tech innovators during the market-entry and tech transfer process – a mitigating financial and operational risks associated with market entry and reducing adoption risks for local health care providers. Selected innovators will receive support and grant funding from the TechEmerge team to pilot their innovations in the East African market, with the ultimate goal of wider commercial deployment of the technology to improve healthcare delivery.

The TechEmerge Health programme is part of IFC’s approach to support entrepreneurship and innovation in emerging markets and leverage the private sector to increase and improve access to quality health services. The programme has already been implemented successfully in India where innovators were matched with leading healthcare providers to implement pilot projects reaching more than 18,000 patients. These initial pilots have led to commercial contracts worth US$1m for broader deployment of healthcare innovations in India that are expected to benefit more than 300,000 people each year.

The programme is being implemented in partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry.