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  In the last 20 years, Nigeria has made significant strides in its startup industry with many successes recorded, drawing attention to the huge prospects in the industry. A major part of this industry that has been in the news more within this period could be said to be the Fintechs, with the likes of Flutterwave and Paystack. This is understandably due to the prominent role finance plays in the generality of the economy and the huge investments this sector attracts. However, other parts of this huge industry are doing great but not enjoying the same media attention as the Fintechs. One such area is healthcare where like Finance, many startups are innovating (innovative healthcare) and solving problems in this sector.
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Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country but has long struggled with significant healthcare challenges, including inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of medical professionals, and limited access to essential services. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria has one of the lowest doctor-to-patient ratios in the world, with only four doctors per 10,000 people. Additionally, the country’s healthcare system has faced issues like counterfeit drugs, unreliable supply chains, and poor health outcomes, with maternal and infant mortality rates among the highest globally. These explain why many Nigerians, especially the few who have the means, often travel abroad for medical treatments. Over the past decade, a new generation of entrepreneurs has emerged, leveraging technology and innovative business models to address critical gaps in the healthcare system. These startups are improving access to quality healthcare and driving significant advancements in medtech and services. This article looks at four of these innovative healthcare startups in Nigeria.


Empower Africa
Founded by Temie Giwa-Tubosun in 2016, LifeBank is a revolutionary startup that has transformed the way blood and oxygen are delivered to hospitals. LifeBank uses technology to connect hospitals needing blood with donors and blood banks. The startup operates a 24/7 delivery service, ensuring blood products reach patients promptly. In 2022, Lifebank’s technology was servicing the demands of 1300+ hospitals in 13 African cities. LifeBank’s innovative use of technology, including a digital platform called Nerve, and efficient logistics, has saved thousands of lives across Nigeria. The Nerve App provides access to all their current products (blood, oxygen, and medical consumables) allowing hospitals to sign up, get verified, and place an order in seconds. The products are then delivered directly to the hospital with an in-app tracking feature informing hospitals of the status of their orders at every point.

Helium Health

Africa CEO Voices
Helium Health, founded by Adegoke Olubusi, Tito Ovia, and Dimeji Sofowora in 2016, is a digital health company that provides electronic medical records (EMRs) and hospital management solutions. According to the co-founder and CEO, Goke Olubusi, “When we founded Helium Health, we had one big mission: to provide a technology and insight-driven backbone for Africa’s ailing healthcare systems.” The startup’s platform helps hospitals and clinics transition from paper-based systems to digital records, improving efficiency and patient care. Helium Health’s solutions include telemedicine services, billing systems, and data analytics, enabling healthcare providers to deliver better care and make informed decisions.


Tech Cabal
Medication management is a significant issue in Nigeria, with counterfeit drugs posing a severe threat to patient safety. MedSaf, founded by Vivian Nwakah in 2016, tackles this problem by providing a secure platform for sourcing and managing medications. MedSaf ensures that healthcare providers receive genuine and safe medications by partnering with trusted manufacturers and distributors. With over 4,000 facilities on-boarded, it includes inventory management tools, helping hospitals and pharmacies maintain optimal stock levels and reduce waste. One of the testimonials highlighted on the company’s website is from Dr Ifeanyi Obiora, COO of Eko Hospital, and it reads:
“We used to deal with so many suppliers, we had about 40 to 50 different suppliers, that alone was an administrative burden, sending requests to different suppliers, processing payment was an administrative nightmare. since we started working with MEDSAF, I can say that all those challenges went away. With MEDSAF the process is pretty streamlined, with speed and quality of service.”

Flying Doctors Nigeria

Flying Doctors Nigeria – Facebook
Flying Doctors Nigeria, founded by Dr. Ola Brown in 2007, is a pioneering air ambulance service that provides emergency healthcare and medical evacuation services across West Africa. They offer critical care transport for patients of government and private organisations, ensuring they receive timely medical attention. According to information on their website, Flying Doctors Nigeria is the first and only Air Ambulance provider in West Africa and operates a fleet of about 20 aircraft equipped with advanced medical equipment and staffed by trained medical professionals. The services provided by Flying Doctors Nigeria, though targeted at the privileged few, are vital in a country with challenging transportation infrastructure and limited access to specialized care. This startup exemplifies the innovative spirit of Nigerian healthcare startups, addressing urgent healthcare needs with creative solutions.
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Closing Thoughts

The four startups highlighted in this post indicate that the startup space isn’t only about the Paystacks and Flutterwaves. In Nigeria, innovative healthcare startups are making remarkable strides in addressing the country’s healthcare problems and contributing to the economy. As these startups continue to grow and expand, they hold the promise of transforming Nigeria’s healthcare system and providing better health outcomes for millions of Nigerians. The success of these Nigerian healthcare startups highlights the importance of fostering innovation and supporting entrepreneurs in all sectors of the economy. With continued investment and collaboration, we will see more growth in other non-financial sectors, driven by the ingenuity and determination of its homegrown startups.
Featured Image Source: EURObiz
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This article was first published on 11th June 2024


Ifegwu-Mbonu Victor is a Personal Growth and Leadership Trainer who provides training and coaching to individuals and organizations.

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