How the mobile phone will soon help Kenyans find a Doctor

This is very cool – set to launch on October 1 this could really change the playing field of mhealth – next on deck is using mobile phones to enable training in the rural sites.

medAfrica from Kenyan startup Shimba is a phone-based medical reference and real-time public health tool meant to dramatically increase the well being of Kenyans, and eventually people throughout the developing world. Similar in many ways to Indian company mDhil, the smart phone version of the app allows a sick individual to check his or her symptoms against an encyclopedia of ailments, such as fever, swelling or other maladies, and the tool will allow them to call a relevant medical professional with a single click.

There are 40 million people in Kenya, and only 7,000 doctors nationwide. There’s too much knowledge locked up in too few heads, as co-founder Mbugua Njihia quipped from the stage during his presentation. Their app helps to narrow this knowledge gap in many important ways. And while smart phone penetration is steadily rising throughout Kenya and Africa as a whole, the real power comes from medAfrica’s ability to deliver health information to remote areas through the use of SMS.

What works in Africa can work anywhere, in terms of scale and internationalization, and the team believes that if they can reach 200 million downloads, at $10 of revenue per customer per year, they will be a billion-dollar company within five years.”

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