As technology develops day by day, so does health technology (health tech). The goal of health tech is to make use of technology to offer health care to patients faster in a cheaper and accessible way and at the same time increasing the development of medicinal products. This type of health care is usually located outside the usual medical facilities likes hospitals or clinics by making use of technology and services like cloud computing, internet services and social mobility.[1]

In the last 5 years funding for the health tech market has grown extremely, allowing US$11.7 billion to flow into health tech businesses from over 30,000 investors.[2]

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The urgent necessity for health tech development in Africa

Due to the lack of healthcare workers and infrastructure in many parts of Africa, the continent experiences around 24% of the worldwide disease burden. Many people have to travel for hours in very poor health conditions in order to get medical treatment. This leads to many costs and takes up lots of time. For this reason, there is an urgent need for health technology all over Africa. Which could help resolve some of the hurdles people struggle with daily in order to receive medical care.

How does health tech work?

Health tech enables both the healthcare worker and the patient to stay in their locations and connect online (telehealth) in order to give and receive medical advice. In some cases, robotic-assisted surgery is also possible. With telehealth, a patient can explain their symptoms and the healthcare worker could diagnose the condition, prescribe medication and give further instructions to the patient. The whole process is uncomplicated and saves both time and money as well as giving new insights into medicines and treatments, or improve the overall quality of care provided.[3]

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Development of health tech worldwide

In order to resolve the problem between the lack of infrastructure and services and the need of the patients, health tech startups are popping up all over the globe and especially in Africa. According to Briter Bridges and Partech data, around $19 million of roughly $1 billion tech investment had gone into the health tech sector in Africa in 2017 alone. [4] As technology develops so does it transform the health sector all over Africa which will continue for the next years to come. At the same time, it offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to build up their health tech startups in these regions to solve health challenges linked with poor healthcare access. “According to the High Tech Health released by Disrupt Africa, there are currently 180 actively operating health-tech focussed startups across the African continent.”[5] These startups have grown by over 50% in the past 3 years with support from many investors. It is especially noticeable that half of these fundings from investors have been received during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020.[6] Although the COVID-19 pandemic has had a very hard and difficult impact on the African continent and the rest of the world, it is also a good time for the health tech sector receiving so much support which leads to a growth in opportunities in this sector.

This map below illustrates the active Health-Tech startups in Africa:

HealthTech+Q1+2020@4x

The future of health tech

Due to the digital age and growth in mobile usage and internet access all over Africa, the possibility that people accept the advanced development of health technology is quite high. Which means people would rather make use of this technology method than declining it. This could lead to the rather fast growth of health tech care all over the continent. Health tech offers big opportunities for people in Africa. From medicine distribution to using advanced technology to get access to medicine and healthcare.

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