Innovative solutions needed to solve Africa’s health challenges –Physicians

Janet Ogundepo

Two medical entrepreneurs, Dr. Yetunde Ayo-Oyalowo and Dr. Funmi Adewara, have called for innovative strategies to combat the problem of universal access to health care in Africa.

Both doctors, who are female inventors of accessible healthcare services, also emphasised the need for solutions that were affordable, easy-to-reach, sustainable and efficient to solve the challenges in the healthcare sector.

Dr. Funmi Adewara, who is the founder of Mobihealth International, stated that Nigeria and Africa needed access to healthcare services, adding that community-based solutions and technology could be leveraged to get to the least reached areas.

Adewara said, “As we move forward on the path of development Nigeria and Africa’s ability to create sustainable and efficient access to health care will depend largely on its capacity to invent, deploy and scale up solutions that are sensitive and appropriate for individuals and local communities.”

She commended the activities of other healthcare organisations providing innovative solutions to accessible healthcare services, adding that through the use of technology, Mobihealth had been able to provide accessible healthcare services to the end-users.

The medical expert said, “There are many other organisations doing their part in improving access to care including Mobihealth International, deploying technology through Artificial intelligence-powered digital health tools to harness local and global medical human capital and resources to enable healthcare access to the last mile.

“Mobihealth’s innovate initiatives has been commended by the United Nations as an inclusive and sustainable healthcare solution and recently won the World Bank SDGs Award 2020 amongst 2400 contestants globally, a first time win for Nigeria.”

Similarly, Ayo-Oyalowo, who is the founder of Market Doctors, a company that provides affordable basic medical services to Nigeria’s underserved population, said an innovative way was needed to solve the problem of universal access to health care in Africa.

According to her, if a person has to choose between having a meal and access to healthcare, there is a problem.

She said, “The journey time to the facility, the time they will spend seeing the doctor, having tests, going to the pharmacy; they don’t want to lose their income for that day. So, what were are trying to do is to put all of these together, reduce the overhead, bundle healthcare into their shopping bags as they come to the market.

“The way our services works is been able to convert any space into a clinic by either using a mobile truck or even a health worker with a backpack. We have reached over 180,000 people. Market Doctors is going to be the game-changer in health care in Africa.”

Ayo-Oyalowo added that Market Doctors was born out of the burden to provide accessible and proper health care services to ordinary Nigerians who do not have access to health insurance and rely on concoctions when they are sick.

“I felt ordinary people do not have access to health care. I once worked in a health insurance company and I discovered that even with the reduced price only a little percentage of people could afford health insurance and health insurance is a sort of gateway to good health care.

So, I thought what happens to the man on the street, how will they be able to access health care? So I asked around and I found out that people already found a way for themselves in going to the chemist and using the local concoction. So that was what formed the idea of what I can do to create access to the common Nigerian. That was how I began the journey,” she added.

The medical entrepreneur also said through the donation of some people on their birthday, they have been able to provide more healthcare services for those in need of it.

She added, “We are also specialists in outreaches, we help organisations conduct outreaches and we have a programme called ‘birthday blessings,’ where we conduct special medical outreaches on the birthdays of those who donate to us.”

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