Africa’s healthcare sector is the next frontier for disruptive technologies

Healthcare professionals have touted Kenya’s healthcare industry as the next area where disruptive technologies will have one of the biggest impacts.

The role of disruptive technologies in improving Kenya’s and Africa’s healthcare sectors was one of the main outcomes from the recent Innovating Economies Summit that was hosted by the Economist Event in Nairobi.

Health practitioners from Africa say that the biggest impact that technological disruption will have on Kenya’s healthcare system will be filling the gap that has been left by low infrastructure developments over the last few decades.

“If you cannot build a road then you can use a drone to deliver emergency blood to a mother who urgently needs it,” said Amit Thakker, the Chairman of East Africa Healthcare Federation.

Thakker added that telemedicine, ehealth and m-health are examples of disruptive technologies that can deliver effectively and affordably deliver healthcare services to the most remote areas on the continent.

Rwanda is already proving to be an early adopter of these technologies after the country’s government announced that it was partnering with Zipline, a US-based startup to deliver medicines to hospitals.

Health professionals added that investment in technology should now be included in healthcare budgets.

“Governments must use a lot more innovation in the planning and delivery of healthcare services,” said World Health Organization regional director for prevention of Non-Communicable Diseases.

The Health Care Africa Summit brought together policy-makers, regulators, health care practitioners, donors, businesses, NGOs, and patient groups who discussed how to meet the increased health care demand across Africa and overcome the challenges facing the continent.

Africa is expected to record one of the fastest increases in health care spending over the next four years but despite the rapid growth, the continent still lags behind other regions in providing access to quality and affordable health care. Epidemics such as Ebola and HIV have far reaching consequences and Sub-Saharan Africa still lags behind the rest of the world in relation to the under-5 and maternal mortality rates.

The Economist Events’ aim to tackle issues with a forward-looking, uniquely global perspective.

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