Kenyan healthtech startup secures $1.1-million funding 

Ilara Health, a Kenya-based health tech startup has received $1.1-million in grant funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The funding will be used to improve maternal health outcomes in the country 

Emilian Popa, CEO, and co-founder of Ilara Health comments on securing the grant. 

“We are incredibly excited to receive support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve Kenya’s maternal health outcomes and promote Ilara Health’s core mission of improving access to diagnostics countrywide. This grant underscores the acute need for the continuation of essential ANC services during the COVID-19 pandemic; we hope to see a great reduction in poor maternal and neonatal health outcomes through its implementation in these low-resource peri-urban areas.”

The startup aims to positively contribute and impact antenatal care in peri-urban areas, areas that are located immediately adjacent to an urban area. 

According to reports, the funding will be used to create effective antenatal care interventions (ANC) and generate tech-based solutions for pregnant individuals who are unable to access essential services during the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Kenya-based health tech startup has partnered with the Kisumu Ministry of Health and the Kenya Medical Research Institute to ensure that life-saving maternal care is provided to pregnant women. This will be done by leveraging off a network of local primary care facilities, telemedicine along with qualified health-care workers at home consultations for pregnant patients. 

In an official press statement, Ilara health provides insight into how the grant will be used to positively contribute to ANC. 

“The grant, which was awarded in September and is expected to reach approximately 4,000 low-income pregnant women in peri-urban Kisumu county, will address a significant drop in ANC attendance at large health facilities as concerns for possible COVID-19 transmission grow in these hotspots.”

Addressing ante-natal care 

According to reports, less than 3% of women in Kenya complete the 

World Health Organization recommended eight ante-natal care appointments. 

Pregnant women are advised to attend their ante-natal care appointments to avoid maternal death and stillbirths. Ilara Health has reported that in 2017, there were 342 reported maternal deaths per 100 000 recorded. 

Kisumu Country has been identified as an area that experiences the highest rate of maternal deaths at a reported 595 deaths per 100 000 live births in 2019. 

Through Ilara Health’s ANC project, the startup also aims to educate locals on the importance of ANC services and ANC attendance. 

Providing effective ANC care to pregnant individuals, Ilara Health has partnered with various companies using AI and robotics to ensure that obstetric ultrasounds, the battery of tests comprising ANC profile, and micro/macronutrient supplementation are available at small local clinics. 

Launching their new project targetted at providing ANC to pregnant women, Ilara Health’s project aims to improve access to diagnostics locally and through the use of its tech platform. 

“The team will reach pregnant women at their local clinics, individual homes, or remotely – collectively providing safe, Covid-free, high-quality care to both mother and baby, ” explains a statement by Ilara Health. 

New projects in the pipeline 

As part of its project, Ilara Health has partnered with Butterfly Network, the company behind the telemedicine-enabled Butterfly iQ to possibly provide real-time feedback on necessary ultrasound imaging carried out by in-house sonographers linked to imaging specialists. 

Ilara Health indicates in a press statement that the development of this mechanism with Butterly Network is still in the works. 

“If successful, this feature will be rolled out across the larger project to improve the availability of ultrasounds across peri-urban areas. “

Accessible health care and testing 

Founded in 2019, Ilara Health is a health tech startup that provides accessible and affordable diagnostics to a reported disadvantaged 500-million people in Africa. 

Partnering with companies using robotics and AI to lower the overall cost of diagnostics, integrating these companies’ devices onto the Ilara Health tech platform, the startup is able to provide diagnostic testing to small primary care clinics in Kenya.

The health tech startup has created easy-to-use, affordable, and accessible technology that establishes a life-saving point of care diagnostic tools for a large number of patients across Kenya. 

Read more: SA health-tech startup launches chatbot for high-risk patients
Read more: SA healthtech startup secures seed investment

Featured image: Founders of Ilara Health (Supplied)

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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