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Business News of Wednesday, 26 January 2022


Elizabeth Adeshina says Wazima will change and improve healthcare in Africa

Wazima CEO, Elizabeth Adeshina Wazima CEO, Elizabeth Adeshina

Elizabeth Adeshina is founder and CEO of health tech company, Wazima, providing accessible and affordable healthcare to Sub-Saharan African countries.

Could you tell us about your company?

NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) like diabetes & hypertension and maternal mortality are a growing health challenge. NCDs in particular have been projected to overtake infectious diseases as the leading cause of death in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030, they are currently the cause of up to 43% of all deaths in some African countries.

Wazima is a Health Tech UK company which launched in 2018 and provides NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) and Antenatal patients in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to continuous wrap-around care in order to reduce death rates and improve quality of health through connected access to the healthcare ecosystem and affordable health payment options.

Our digital solutions will help patients access healthcare providers, get rapid diagnosis, be followed-up, monitored and managed by their healthcare providers, get their medication, get referrals to specialists and community support. We also offer a Care at Home (or office) service which allows patients to get clinical care, medication and some diagnostics testing done in the comfort of their home or office by licensed medical professionals like nurses, physiotherapist, doctors and so on. Our care at Home solution also enables us serve the more rural communities.

Wazima's solutions are tailormade for and deployed to address the healthcare needs of Sub-Saharan Africans. We provide our services currently in 3 countries - Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique.

What industries do you service?

Wazima services the Healthcare sector primarily as a SaaS (Software as a Service) being used by healthcare providers and patients. The healthcare ecosystem like doctors/nurses/therapists/, hospitals, diagnostic centres, pharmacies, HMOs get a connected care with patients through our Software.

The tools on our digital solution principally supports and helps those with NCDs and or are pregnant to get access to care, follow-up with their doctor or hospital, get their medication and early diagnostic testing.

We are delighted to have our work endorsed and supported by the likes of global players like Bayer G4A (Bayer Pharmaceuticals) and GIZ with a number of partners within the health and wellness sector including hospitals, pharmacies, doctors and diagnostic centres using our software.

Is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic AND the work-from-home trend affecting your operations?

Typically, majority of us in Nigeria were not used to remote working but the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that there are other ways of doing things that can be just as effective. During the height of the pandemic all our teams were required to work remotely which had its challenges initially but many have adjusted well with new recruits even asking if we accommodate work-from home. We essentially had to ensure we were able to track productively and stay connected online as a team. Being a technology company, the transition has been a natural one and we are now working a hybrid of remote and in-office.

What is the company’s growth strategy for 2022?

We are super excited about the opportunities that 2022 presents us, as we have this year added 2 new countries to our service markets; Ghana in partnership support with GIZ and Mozambique support from the Chamber of Commerce.

We are of course continuing to grow our client base within Nigeria including prioritising our Home Care services.

We have so far served over 120,000 patients and their families, majority of whom suffer from NCDs like hypertension, diabetes, cancer and so on in addition to also playing a major part in Antenatal care for pregnant women; many who have high risk pregnancies have been identified early and managed accordingly via the triage pathway. Our software is being used by hospitals, doctors, diagnostics centres, pharmacies and HMOs.

We will shortly be rolling out our unique co-branded critical health insurance packages in partnership with AXA Global.

What are the long-term ambitions you’re aiming for, as an organization?

Wazima has a pan-African health innovation vision so will continue to increase our country penetration year on year. This 2022, Wazima has entered two new countries which are different markets from Nigeria and we look forward to making impact to the healthcare systems there.

Long term, we will be addressing the growing mental health challenges and expand the AI capabilities of our software with language customisations so every African can access care and be managed.

Being patient and user-centred in our approach, we will continue to listen to and address their needs.

What government policies can be implemented for companies to thrive in Nigeria?

One of the greatest challenges that currently exist in our digital health & telehealth sector is reimbursement for our services with many health insurance companies and Universal health coverage in Nigeria not yet including digital services like ours on provider lists so doctors and hospitals can claim back from costs for digital services.

We have in the last couple of years seen some HMOs in Nigeria increasingly endorse, utilise and include telehealth services within their provider list as a reimbursable but more must embrace digital health services.

Specifically for our digital health & telehealth sector, more members of the ecosystem need to work together, hospitals shouldn’t feel the need to become tech companies when there are some competent organisations already providing digital solutions to service their needs.

What are the opportunities for Health business and Health tech in Africa in 2022?

The Covid-19 pandemic has definitely highlighted many of these deficiencies in the healthcare systems across SSA - access to care, care delivery and even affordable payment options requires massive attention, updates and innovation but things are so far behind that there tends to be a reluctance to begin to tackle these.

All the gaps in the healthcare structure are potential opportunities to improve and make positive change and at Wazima we believe that health tech has a major role to play in facilitating access and managing patient populations.

Ultimately, without a decent healthcare system, the people continue to suffer needlessly.

We have seen the Fintech and agritech get lots of attentions and investments, I believe that Africa is now ready to address the challenges within its healthcare systems.