Healthcare providers in Central and East Africa are grappling with the procurement and maintenance of essential medical equipment and supplies.
This has led to a scarcity of crucial diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, resulting in avoidable fatalities and adverse health outcomes in communities lacking resources. Additionally, patients often have to travel great distances for diagnoses, leading to inconvenience, extended waiting periods, and increased costs.
Statista predicts a continuous 0.02% decrease in health expenditure as a percentage of GDP in East Africa from 2024 to 2029, reaching 4.38% in 2029. This is concerning as low healthcare spending is linked to high infant mortality rates and reduced life expectancy.
VIEBEG Technologies, an African health tech company backed by venture capital, is working to broaden access to affordable healthcare in Central and East Africa by assisting healthcare facilities in real-time procurement of supplies. The company employs artificial intelligence (AI) to oversee supply chain processes, ensuring that healthcare facilities maintain an accurate inventory of medical supplies.
VIEBEG, which serves over 1,000 hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and healthcare providers in Rwanda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is recognized for its innovative data-driven procurement solution, VieProcure. This platform streamlines the distribution of medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals, addressing key supply chain issues in the healthcare sector.
Established in 2018 by CEO Tobias Reiter and Chief Commercial Officer Alex Musyoka, VIEBEG collaborates with hospitals, clinics, and healthcare providers to manage and enhance their supply of medical products, devices, and equipment essential for comprehensive patient care.
Musyoka states, “We have already begun expanding into other parts of East Africa, including Kenya, Burundi, and Congo, and are currently serving over 500 facilities. Our goal is to expand across Africa.”
In 2023, Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, an impact fund within the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, invested in VIEBEG Technologies. This investment supports the company’s mission to reach more providers and patients through sustained growth and expansion in East and Central Africa, specifically Rwanda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
David Higgins, Investments Director at J&J Impact Ventures, says, “A reliable supply of essential medical products is fundamental to a health provider’s success. We are eager to support and expand VIEBEG’s crucial work in this area, enhancing the capacity of health systems to care for their patients.”
The focus on health tech in Africa has the potential to offer more affordable and accessible healthcare to the continent’s 1.5 billion inhabitants. With 56% of Africans unable to access quality care, technological advancements such as AI, data management, and connectivity offer a unique opportunity to overcome longstanding challenges and improve medical outcomes.
Reiter explains that the company’s AI-driven medical procurement platform directly links healthcare providers with manufacturers, eliminating intermediaries and resulting in cost savings of up to 40% for customers.
In addition to revenue enhancement, the funding has allowed the company to conduct employee training, access working capital, and hire additional staff. They have developed a digital platform that serves as a comprehensive resource for supply chain and logistics services, including ordering, shipping, warehousing, last-mile distribution, and inventory management. This has bolstered the resilience of these providers against external shocks, such as climate disasters and civil unrest.