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Ilara Health - Pandemic preparedness for Peri-Urban Kenya

Equipping healthcare providers in Kenya with the tools they need to manage pandemics safely

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Ilara Health is working with peri-urban healthcare providers to confront COVID-19. Our response focuses on protecting and preparing small first-stop health facilities to better respond to COVID-19 through better equipment and tools for improved clinical decision support. This package will work to alleviate the burden to the public health sector by helping manage patient flow and promote information transfer. 

What is the need are you focusing on?

As Africa faces the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of diagnostic tools, inadequate care and low levels of health education exacerbate the risks the outbreak poses in the continent. In Kenya, 60% of patients are served by small peri-urban clinics as the first point of care, however, these facilities are typically small and lack appropriate diagnostic equipment, resulting in patients travelling to urban centres for diagnostics and treatment. This is at best an inconvenience to the patient, and at worse, a delay in treatment that could lead to deterioration in the patient’s health. Urban, public health centres in developing countries such as Kenya now face unprecedented strain. Without support, they will become overburdened with increased patient flow caused by COVID-19. A lack of information transfer between facilities compounds the problem further, as clinics lack robust data collection tools many patients require repeat testing, which leads to missed opportunities to improve health outcomes. 

Which type of submission are you sharing?

  • Identifying a gap that needs to be addressed
  • Sharing a pivot idea your organization is considering or could consider

Describe the business pivot or adaptation in 3-4 sentences.

The Ilara Health readiness package includes: - Digital triage tools for symptom checking including respiratory infection tools like ResApp, used to classify upper vs. lower chest infections, and lung ultrasound tools like the portable ButterflyIQ which detects imaging features typical of patients presenting with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 - A self-assessment chatbot that individuals can engage with from home, assess their risk, and receive recommendations on whether to seek help or self-manage their symptoms -Clinical decision support including a digital COVID-19 health assessment tool and ADA app-based health management aid. - Certified testing kits - currently awaiting change in legislation for rollout -The package is underpinned by a tech platform, that stores patient data securely and allows for information transfer between healthcare providers. Our imaging devices are also telemedicine-enabled linking facility staff to full-time medical specialists for assisted r

Do you plan to implement this solution?

  • Yes

Describe the impact that this solution will create in the world.

With the right support, we can have a significant impact in limiting the COVID-19’s effects in the communities we are active in across Kenya. Our digital solutions will help gear up facilities’ preventive mechanisms and clinical decision-making, simultaneously lessening the burden on the national healthcare system. Individuals are empowered with tools to assess their symptoms at home. Clinics have an increased capacity to diagnose patients with COVID-19, and with our health assessment tool, create appropriate treatment plans for each case. Across the next month, we anticipate serving 80+ clinics in peri-urban areas, and we see potential to reach a total of 200 by July. Each clinic serves about 400-700 patients per month in normal circumstances. While our package was developed in response to the emergence of COVID-19, equipping these clinics now with digital solutions will have lasting impact. The diagnostic tools and screening devices within this package will continue to strengthen the quality of care provided across East Africa post-pandemic and be investments in combating future health emergencies. Across Kenya there are 12,000 healthcare providers. With the right market linkages, we are ready to deliver our solution at scale, across the country. We intend to expand across Sub-Saharan Africa, with Tanzania and Uganda identified as secondary markets for scale. Following implementation in Kenya, we will have a dedicated pandemic response package, ready to plug into healthcare networks across East Africa. In these two markets alone we see a further 10,000 potential partners.

What is the name of your business or organization?

Ilara Health

What does your business/company do? Whose needs does your business/company address? Who do you serve?

Ilara Health equips peri-urban healthcare providers with tech-enabled diagnostic devices to improve the quality of care in Sub-Saharan Africa. We believe every patient should have access to accurate, affordable diagnostics for their healthcare needs, however, affordable diagnostic tests are currently inaccessible to millions of sub-Saharan Africans. Across the continent, 500 million people struggle to access even a simple blood test. We work to solve the problem of low availability and underutilization of life-saving diagnostics in Sub-Saharan Africa by enabling providers and patients to access diagnostic technologies that were previously out of reach.

What is your profession?

Health Entrepreneur

Where are you located (country)?


Where are you located (region)?

  • Eastern Africa

What industry is your business/company in?

  • Healthcare/Medical

How many people does your business/company employ?

  • 11-49

How old is your business/company?

  • 1-2 years old

Which classification describes your organization/business?

  • Business

What kind of stakeholders and partnerships are needed to pursue this solution?

  • Funding- Grants
  • Funding- Loans
  • Funding- Investment
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- NGOs
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Private Sector
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Government
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Civil Society Groups
  • Stakeholders/Partnerships- Grassroots/Community Groups

Do you need help building partnerships and finding partners?

  • Yes

If Yes to the above, please share 1-2 sentences describing the specific help you desire.

We are seeking support in developing our tech platform and associated software solutions. We’re also looking for in-kind contributions that will allow us to subsidize our offering to clinics. We are also looking for other health companies to find synergies and potential partnerships. Finally, we’re looking to build our network with health stakeholders on a global level.

What do you think are the main barriers to implementing this solution?

Financial: We are seeking support to cover the costs of development of the technology platform that will underpin all diagnostics tools. Many of the clinics we work with have low cash flow, thus we are considering a subscription payment model. Ideally, we will be able to subsidize some costs with grant funding. Technical: We intend for the underlying tech platform to be GDPR compliant, and will require expertise on staff to ensure our platform is fully secure. Logistical: The majority of our diagnostic tools are imported from China. While Kenya is still open to cargo there is a risk that further closures of borders will affect our ability to bring equipment into the country.

If you are currently working on a pivot, what have you learned so far?

As a health technology company, there are various possible interventions we could make that would be of value to the fight against COVID-19. At this time, we must prioritise strong partnerships between the private and public health sectors in order to fulfil urgent, unmet needs. For instance, we have already pivoted to meet the gap in availability of personal protective equipment. We have tested the viability of 3D-printing scare medical equipment and PPE such as face shields. With our 3D printers, we can fill a large unmet need for affordable and effective safety equipment and respiratory aids. We use open source designs and develop all materials locally, simultaneously providing valuable employment. Ultimately, our strongest value-add is to leverage our diagnostic partnerships and ensure that small clinics have the diagnostic tools to diagnose not only COVID-19, but conditions that are known to lead to lower health outcomes for COVID-19 patients.

Are you aware of any open source efforts, hackathons or other collaborative efforts related to your solution? Are you participating in these efforts?

Africa vs Virus - we did participate but did not submit a final submission. We are also participating in the SmartDevelopmentHack Competition

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