Photo caption: Medsol AI CEO Dr Kathryn Malherbe and Gagan Singh, AstraZeneca African Cluster Country President during the launch of the hub

In tech hub, a pharmaceutical company finds a growing market


A pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca recently launched Africa Health Innovation Hub in an effort push up healthcare equity while fostering partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including governments, healthcare societies, academia, healthcare providers and patient advocacy groups patient advocacy groups, to better improve patient outcomes. 

The hub, which is the latest in the global A. Catalyst Network, a connected array of over 20 hubs worldwide, aims at using the ‘latest science and technology’ to improve access to healthcare for patients on the continent. 

It seeks to tackle current healthcare challenges through collaborative innovation, promote affordable and equitable healthcare access, and amplify patient-centred innovation through strategic alliances within the healthcare ecosystem.  

Last year, AstraZeneca joined the WEF Edison Alliance, a public-private partnership that aims at improving the lives of 1 billion people through digital inclusion by 2025. The partnership reinforces the company’s commitment to harnessing digital innovation to drive inclusion and equity across the healthcare ecosystem.

According to Gagan Singh, Country President, African Cluster, AstraZeneca, the innovation hub will strengthen and future-proof health systems across the whole patient journey, ensuring everyone has equitable and affordable access to the life-changing healthcare solutions they need, regardless of where they live. 

“The launch of the Africa Health Innovation Hub is a significant step in our goal to unlock digital transformation and innovation in health across the continent, paving the way for patient-centric digital health solutions that leave no one behind. By working with partners across the continent, we are nurturing local talent and making quality health care more accessible for all,” said Singh. 

He notes that the launch of the innovation hub is a significant step in unlocking digital transformation and innovation in health across the continent. In Africa, two major new partnerships will form the backbone of the hub in its initial phases, he says.  

In South Africa, AstraZeneca is partnering with MEDSOL AI SOLUTIONS to help promote the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the detection of disease through a state-of-the-art Wi-Fi ultrasound probe that can detect breast cancer in seconds. The Melusi Breast AI rapid detection app will be rolled out in rural clinics to help in early detection of the disease, supported by a dedicated referral system so that women with positive detection of breast cancer can be offered a quicker turnaround time for therapeutic intervention. 

According Dr Kathryn Malherbe (PhD), who is the chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of MedSol AI Solutions, another priority area is strengthening innovation hubs. For example, breast cancer is a devastating disease, with women in most communities not able to access diagnosis services. It is always a case of late-stage diagnoses. 

“The Melusi Breast AI project will enable us to leverage technology and innovation to improve early diagnostic detection rates and patient outcomes in local clinics, ultimately saving lives,” said Malherbe. 

On the other front, in Kenya, the company is expanding an already successful collaboration with Tricog Health Limited. After a few years of piloting an AI technology that connects ACS patients to health professionals and route them to the appropriate facilities, enabling early cardio-renal complications to be addressed in India, the African hub aims to enhance early diagnosis and treatment of Heart Failure using Tricog’s InstaECG AI tools for rapid diagnosis, reducing mortality rates and improving quality of life. 

Dr. Charit Bhograj, CEO and founder of Tricog Health Limited, non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, are on the rise in Kenya and across Africa. He says: “We know that the earlier these conditions are diagnosed, the better chance it is for patients to continue to live long healthy lives. “By investing in digital health technology, the Africa Health Innovation Hub is enabling the use of advanced AI to screen and diagnose patients remotely, bringing high-quality health tools to people no matter where they live.”

Another partnership initiated last year that is expected to formally form part of the Africa Health Innovation Hub is the Fuel Africa programme, launched by Futurize. It is a healthcare entrepreneurship programme on the continent, bringing together minds across higher learning institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges in healthcare. 

It is also interesting to note that for the second year in a row, AstraZeneca’s A. Catalyst Network partnered with Futurize to reinforce a strong commitment to fostering innovation in the continent by developing local talents.  

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