Kenya to get mobile health info

By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya

Start-up Shimba Technologies Ltd, in partnership with Nokia, has launched MedAfrica, a mobile application that will offer a go-to source of medical information.

The service aims to make healthcare information affordable and accessible to all Kenyans.

MedAfrica was born out of the health category of Tuvitu (a mobile content platform by Shimba Technologies). It won the Pivot 25 award, a regional competition held in April, 2011 in Nairobi. The team got an opportunity to showcase the product at Demo fall, Silicon Valley in July and also emerged as one of the top 10 apps.

“MedAfrica seeks to improve the health of communities and regions in which it operates by increasing access to healthcare-related information and services in Africa. Shimba Technologies aims to achieve their objective by creating platforms that facilitate dissemination of information and build communities around the different issues and conditions while at the same time converging all stake holders and amplifying their efforts,” says Steve Mutinda, Founder of Shimba Technologies Ltd.

The content on the platform will be provided by the government (courtesy of open data), private sector, academia, and the general health practitioners.

Kenya has a population of 40 million and only 7,000 registered medical practitioners; yet it enjoys mobile phone penetration of 26 million. This makes the mobile phone an ideal platform to disseminate information of health, says Shimba.

The platform will be accessible via a number of channels – mobile applications (Java, Nokia, and Android), mobile web, Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), web and short message service.

The start-up is seeking out partnerships with government institutions, pharmaceutical companies, medical associations, medical support groups, non-governmental organizations, mobile network operators and general populations. “Our mission is to increase access to health related content and services to save lives and build a healthy population, our target being to reach every house hold in Africa. In this case we have a road map in place where we launch the product in Kenya then scale it to other African countries,” says Jackline Cheruiyot, MedAfrica Team Leader.

Shimba Technologies Ltd has spearheaded the development of solutions such as CDFMonitor, KTraffic, RichMobile, and Sarova. CDFMonitor allows constituents to view information on the Constituency Development Fund allocation and use in Kenya. KTraffic shows camera views of Kenyan roads and suggestions of alternate roads, thus allowing users to avoid traffic jams.

Shimba Technologies Ltd also plans to release an appeal and donations philanthropic platform called Sponsor Kenya, which was shortlisted by the ICT Board’s Tandaa Grant, and the second version of the Tuvitu platform come 2012.

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