AstraZeneca Launches Innovation Hub to Increase Access to Healthcare Across Africa
AstraZeneca's innovation hub aims to use the latest science and technology to improve access to healthcare for patients across Africa.
AstraZeneca launched the Africa Health Innovation Hub highlighting their commitment to healthcare equity and fostering partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including governments, healthcare societies, academia, healthcare providers, and patient advocacy groups, to better improve patient outcomes.
Building on AstraZeneca’s work in Africa, the hub aims to use the latest science and technology to improve access to healthcare for patients across Africa.
The Africa Health Innovation Hub is the latest in the global A.Catalyst Network, a connected array of over 20 hubs worldwide. This network seeks to tackle current healthcare challenges through collaborative innovation, promote affordable and equitable healthcare access, and amplify patient-centered innovation through strategic alliances within the healthcare ecosystem.
Last year, AstraZeneca joined the WEF Edison Alliance, a public-private partnership that aims to improve the lives of 1 billion people through digital inclusion by 2025. The partnership reinforces the commitment to harness digital innovation to drive inclusion and equity across the healthcare ecosystem, therefore, being a strong facilitator of the Africa Hub.
The Country President, of African Cluster, AstraZeneca, Gagan Singh, stated, “AstraZeneca aims to 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,” Singh said. He added, “By working with partners across the continent, we are nurturing local talent and making quality health care more accessible for all.”
Partnering to bring a purpose to life
In Africa, two major new partnerships will form the backbone of the Hub in its initial phases:
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 the 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.
“Medsol AI is excited to be leading one of the inaugural projects of the Africa Innovation Hub, with support from AstraZeneca,” Dr. Kathryn Malherbe, the CEO & Founder of MedSol AI Solutions said. “Breast cancer is a devastating disease, with many women in our communities only able to access late-stage diagnoses.”
Dr. Malherbe further remarked that “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.”
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 routes 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 added, “Non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, are on the rise in Kenya and across Africa, and 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,” Dr. Bhograj said.
Another partnership initiated last year and will officially form part of the Africa Health Innovation Hub is the Fuel Africa program, launched by Futurize.
This is the largest healthcare entrepreneurship program in Africa, bringing together the brightest minds across universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to address some of Africa’s most pressing challenges in healthcare.
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.
The official kick-off to AstraZeneca’s health innovation hub in Africa
The official launch event – which marked the launch of the hub and the kick-off of the Medsol AI partnership – took place at the Daspoort Poli Clinic in Pretoria, South Africa, where healthcare practitioners were able to demonstrate the use of the Melusi Breast AI device in a community clinic setting, which is one of the first points of contact for clinical breast examinations and breast cancer screening for patients.
The Africa Health Innovation Hub will also invest in building local talent, promote policy change for cancer screening, close the gaps in healthcare access, and improve the quality of life for patients in the African region, particularly in rural and underserved communities.
These objectives are aligned with the four pillars of AstraZeneca’s A. Catalyst Network: Education and Awareness, Early Diagnosis and Referral, Connectivity and Technology, and Data Generation.