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Photo courtesy Babylon

 

Digital health chatbot Babylon is expanding its work in Rwanda, aiming to make it easier for folks who don’t have a cell phone number to access its health services. 

The company is broadening its work with Rwanda’s National ID Agency (NIDA) in order to help patients register and access medical appointments. 

Previously, only individuals with a cellphone could register for Babylon’s local service, called Babyl, by entering their mobile phone using their National ID number. However, individuals without phones weren’t able to complete the process. The new deal will let Rwandans use any shared digital or analog device to register, have a digital consultation with a clinician, and get a prescription by entering their national ID. 

Babylon has been working in Rwanda since 2016. In March 2020, the company signed a 10-year partnership with the Rwandan government giving every person over the age of 12 access to digital health consultations. The company now boasts that over 30% of adults in Rwanda have registered with Babyl. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

While Rwanda's smartphone use has been rapidly growing over the last decade, it is still far from universal. According to Statista, there are around 76 mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 Rwandans in 2019.

“I’m proud that Babylon has been able to remove another barrier to healthcare for Rwandans, especially for women,” Babyl managing director Shivon Byamukama said in a statement.

“We’re committed to working with the government and relevant authorities, such as NIDA, to continually improve and innovate Rwanda's healthcare system as they become one of most advanced countries for digital health. This important change brings us one step closer to our mission of putting high-quality accessible and affordable healthcare in the hands of every person on Earth.”

THE LARGER TREND

U.K.-based Babylon recently announced its plans to go public via a $4.2 billion SPAC merger with Alkuri Global Acquisition. The company has a long history of venture interest. In 2019, it scored a whopping $550 million Series C  funding led by the Saudi Arabian crown prince. Just a year later it raked in $100 million in a convertible loan led by Swedish venture fund VNV Global. 

While the company got its start in the U.K., it has been expanding into new markets. In 2020, it launched its chatbot service in the U.S. The company has also worked in Canada. It officially launched its service Babylon by Telus in 2019. Since then it sold off its Canadian operation to partner Telus in a licensing deal worth roughly $70 million. - Laura Lovett, MobiHealthNews

Rwanda President Paul Kagame says local manufacturing of vaccines could help build African countries' resilience to future outbreaks. Photo CFP

 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has slammed vaccine inequality and called on rich countries to do more to expedite the distribution of COVID-19 inoculations in Africa. 

In a live televised interview with national broadcaster RBA on Sunday, Kagame acknowledged the role that bilateral donations and the WHO-administered COVAX scheme have played in channeling vaccines to Africa but described progress to that end as "too slow" and "frustrating."

The president went on to slam wealthy countries for administering so-called 'booster shots' to their populations, a decision that has been criticized by global health bodies as premature, given the fact that many developing nations have not yet been able to administer even initial doses in significant numbers. 

Kagame explained that while Rwanda could not stop other countries from administering booster shots, he urged them to "remember that there are those who have not had anything at all."

The leader explained that local manufacturing of vaccines could help build African countries' resilience to future outbreaks and help to level the public health playing field, explaining that, even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rwanda had plans to develop its own manufacturing plant for essential medicines and vaccines.

"These vaccines can be manufactured in Africa and serve Africa first," Kagame stressed, explaining that local production was a viable medium and long-term solution to the "urgent problem" of vaccine scarcity on the continent. 

When asked whether there may be a time in the future when COVID-19 vaccination will become mandatory for Rwandans, the president said the country's problem was not vaccine hesitancy but rather the lack of sufficient doses for its population. - CGTN

Photo Prensa Latina

 

Nairobi, Sept 3 (Prensa Latina) The lasting rise in deaths and infections with Covid-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, reported today by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDPC), defines the pandemic in that troubled area of ​​the planet.
Although last July the spread of the disease gave no respite, it showed signs of remaining in low figures given the crisis due to the upward trend in other parts of the world, even in countries with great resources, including abundance of vaccines, almost non-existent in Africa both north and south of the Sahara.

But the relative calm was interrupted since last week as numbers of deaths and infections began to increase, bringing criticism from specialized media which accused Western powers of selfishness for monopolizing immunizations.

Today's CDPC report accounted for 741 deaths in the last 24 hours, summing up a total 197 thousand 742, and 28 thousand 957 new cases detected in that period of time, for a total of seven million 851 thousand 294 since the appearance of the pandemic in Africa south of the desert.

The gravity of the situation was revealed in a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) according to which of the 54 countries on the continent, 42 are at risk of not reaching the goal of immunizing 10 percent of the vulnerable population for end of the current month.

Only nine countries on the continent, two in the north, Morocco and Tunisia, and South Africa, in the extreme south, achieved the goal; three are on their way and two could reach it if they accelerate the rate of vaccination, the WHO text refers. - Prensa Latina

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