In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, using technology to deliver healthcare services became even more important than ever, as the demand for more innovative health solutions increased.
Rwanda is among the countries that have been at the forefront of deploying technology in the health sector, to improve service delivery – from using to drones to deliver blood to deploying robots at Kigali International Airport to detect temperature among travellers.
As one of the countries championing the cause, Rwanda is set to host the first-ever HealthTech Summit for Africa, which will bring together players, stakeholders, and innovators in the healthcare sector to discuss and showcase the potential of healthtech on the continent.
The HealthTech Hub Africa will, for the first time, host the three-day summit from June 2 to 4, 2022, bringing together experts and leaders in health and technology and from the public and private sectors in Africa and beyond, powered by Norrsken and the Novartis Foundation in partnership with the Government of Rwanda.
The summit will attract some of the leading healthtech companies and startups working towards transforming the health sector on the continent. The first two days of the summit will focus on three main themes dedicated to building successful public and private partnerships: Inspire, Learn and Transform.
“HealthTech is on the rise in Africa. The continent has, in recent years, recorded impressive growth as more health startups continue to raise funding. The latest funding data suggest that investment in health-tech start-ups in Africa grew by 81% in 2021,” said Pascal Murasira, Managing Director of Norrsken East Africa.
“The growth opportunities are enormous, and we need to leverage this momentum. The HealthTech Summit Africa will be an opportunity to chart the way forward for the healthtech sector and identify the gaps and opportunities,” Murasira added.
During the summit, participants will learn from successful innovations and the challenges they overcame, join inspirational dialogues on health and technology trends, discover some of the most advanced innovations in the 2022 startup cohort, and have the chance to engage in new partnership opportunities.
“The summit is an opportunity to define new solutions for the most pressing health and care challenges, and convene the multisector organizations needed to implement these solutions at a scale that can transform the health of entire populations,” said Dr. Ann Aerts, Head of the Novartis Foundation.
The 30 healthtech start-ups that are part of the HealthTech Hub Africa are expected to participate in the summit and showcase the different innovations and solutions they are bringing to the healthtech space.
Theophila Huriro Uwacu, Director and Founder of E-Heza Solutions, one of the participating companies, said that they are looking forward to participating in the summit, which they believe is not just an opportunity to learn more, but also a platform for more visibility on the continent.
“We are excited to showcase E-Heza Data Solutions as a mature Rwandan homegrown point-of-care digital health solution that facilitates data-driven decisions and personalized health education to improve health outcomes while establishing a one-person, one-record system that serves all primary health care needs for families,” Uwacu said.
“We hope to increase our visibility and inspire others to join us in our journey to transform healthcare delivery across Sub-Saharan Africa and achieve Sustainable Development Goals for health.”
Jelle Schuitemaker, Co-Founder of Goal 3, a healthtech company with a mission to make quality healthcare fair and accessible for everyone, said that the summit will be an opportunity to network and share ideas.
“I expect that the HealthTech Summit will bring a lot of energy, excitement, networking, and learning to us as GOAL 3, touching base on the mentors, investors, and startups we have been working with in the last months is something we really look forward to,” Schuitemaker added.
Key topics to be discussed during the summit include ‘Acceleration of HealthTech innovation- how to create a pan-African model to fast-tracking innovation for public health’; ‘The Integration of HealthTech in Smart Cities for health equity; How to build a unicorn: Global Problems, Local Solutions in Health; Navigating Data Sharing, Consumer Protectionism, and Privacy Laws in the Region; and Artificial Intelligence powering efficiency in the public health system.
Speakers and panelists at the summit will include Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information Communication Technology and Innovation for the Republic of Rwanda, Dr. Ann Aerts, the Head Novartis Foundation, EduAbasi Chukwunweike, the Business Development Manager of Microsoft-Cloud, ISVs & Start-ups and Dr. Shivon Byamukama, the Managing Director of Babyl Health Rwanda, among others.
During the summit, there will be different masterclasses with experts as well as pitching sessions where healthtech startups will be able to pitch before prospective investors.
The summit will be followed on Saturday June 4 by the launch of The Future of Virtual Health and Care – driving access and equity through inclusive policies, which is the latest report from the Broadband Commission Working Group on Virtual Health and Care, co-chaired by the World Health Organization and the Novartis Foundation.
Speakers and panelists at the June 4 event will include Minister Ingabire, Dr. Aerts, Dr. Brian Chirombo, Representative of the WHO to the Republic of Rwanda, Mr. Lacina Koné, the CEO of Smart Africa, and Bocar Ba, the CEO of Samena Telecommunications Council.
Located in Kigali, at the Norrsken East Africa House, the HealthTech Hub Africa is a HealthTech accelerator powered by the Novartis Foundation and hosts over 30 startups that have access to a program that includes capability-building opportunities, partner match-making with the public and private sectors, and mentorship and opportunities to test and validate their solutions in the public health system.