Nairobi-based healthcare incubator and investor Villgro Kenya has awarded $150,000 in grant to 12 East African startups helping in the fight against COVID-19. The startups have developed technologies and innovations that could help in testing, monitoring and managing aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The 12 companies selected for funding and technical assistance include; KEMRI – Rapid Diagnostic Kit, Health-E-Net – Telemedicine platform, Enzi Health – Hail-a-clinic, Flare – Emergency response, Neopenda Uganda – remote patient monitoring device, Maisha Technologies Ethiopia – 3D printing face shields, Simbona Africa – UVC Light treatment, Kijenzi – 3D printing of PPE’s and Medixus – a peer learning platform for doctors.

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Following the call for local innovations to fight the novel coronavirus, there has been a wave of new inventions emerging from the East African ecosystem. We have seen an array of solutions ranging from 3D printed Personal Protective Equipment, rapid testing kits, locally manufactured ventilators, emergency response platforms, and a rise in the uptake of telemedicine.

Funding will also go to three entities locally manufacturing ventilators; the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Ventilators Africa, and Samuel Kairu a local manufacturer using readily available mechanical materials to manufacture low-cost ventilators.

The grant will go towards product development, scaling up production to meet local and regional demand, and improving systems to ensure more people get access to quality and affordable healthcare during the pandemic. This is in line with Villgro Kenya’s goal to transform product and process innovations into viable and scalable businesses that impact those at the base of the pyramid (BoP).

”Innovations like these show the true resilience and grit communities have to fight health challenges in the African continent. We have come out to support these solutions because we believe they will have the greatest impact on the fight against coronavirus in Africa.” Dr. Robert Karanja, Villgro Kenya CEO said.

He further added that Medical Diagnostics and Devices are very critical in the management of the disease, and the coronavirus has shown the world the need for more investments in diagnostic devices which are able to significantly reduce the cost of treatment and prevent further infections of various diseases.

”As Villgro Kenya we continue to champion for Medical Devices and Diagnostics designed for local African markets. We need a sustainable health system geared towards point of care diagnostics to reduce the need for labs to perform medical tests. This will go a long way in reducing the workload of frontline workers and bringing down the cost of healthcare.” Dr. Karanja added.

The Villgro Kenya team will work closely with the innovators to ensure their products and services support frontline workers, widen the options to quality treatment while encouraging social distancing in low-income communities.

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