The fatalities experienced in the Nigerian medical space has been one to often push questions, fright and anxieties in the hearts of many. In 2002, I as an individual lost my younger brother as a result of poor medical attention. In 2016, the same thing would have repeated when my father was sick. With each passing day, there are the diminishing of faith and trust in the Nigerian medical sector. Many have reclined back to either the traditional medical service or fate of “Let the will of God be done”. Sometimes, gaining access to a doctor is hustling for the golden ticket to heaven – hard, faithful and crazy.
Just like me, many other Nigerians have had their fair share of poor medical attention hence the invention of the Zuri mobile app – Zuri Health.
Like many innovations in the space of telemedicine (the use of digital devices such as mobile devices and computers to deliver health care) has been birthed in the African continent to aid combat the problems of accessing proper medical healthcare services.
Zuri Health is a mobile application that gives patients the opportunity to chat with a doctor, buy medication from a pharmacy, book labs and diagnostic tests or have a doctor visit them at home.
The company launched in Kenya earlier this year and aims to provide affordable and accessible healthcare solutions via mobile technology with dedicated apps, wap, and SMS services.
“Zuri Health is very personal to me,” said founder and CEO Ikechukwu Anoke revealed. “The app is named after my daughter, Zuri, who was born in 2013. Despite being at one of the best hospitals in Kenya, we could not get a doctor to attend to my wife on time while she was in labour.”
This push made Dr. Ikechukwu seek a salvation for Nigerians and Africans at large with Zuri Health.
“I had personal health issues before the pandemic which made me even more vulnerable to the virus. With an underlying health problem in a Covid environment, it was vital to think about the provision of healthcare in a different way,” Ikechukwu recalled.
With most hospitals shut and doctors unavailable in the heat of the pandemic, he says that telemedicine and remote care became extremely important at that point to salvage the issues created by the absence of doctors.
“It made sense to build an app through which people could get basic tests done without leaving the comfort of their home and further risk their lives. If we had known earlier, maybe we would have built apps and launched them during the pandemic. The experience of Covid helped what we’ve built today.”
Zuri Health launched a beta version in November 2020 and rolled out officially in Nairobi two months later. Since January, Zuri has onboarded more than 250 doctors, who earn extra income from the service they provide, onto its platform.
Recently, with Nigerian medical doctors on strike, the need for telemedicine cannot be overemphasized. Also the opportunity to chat with a doctor and receive diagnoses remotely helps thousands of subscribers that currently use the application save transportation and other logistical costs while receiving necessary medical care.
“Zuri Health gives doctors a wider and easier platform to reach patients who need them while the underserved populace can now access affordable and sustainable healthcare,” Dr. Ikechukwu said.
The company has secured partnerships in multiple African countries, which is expected to pave the way for a planned continental expansion in the next couple of months. Over the next few months, Zuri wants to enter other markets – including Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Cote DÍvoire, Mozambique, Angola, and Senegal.
The app was co-founded with Daisy Isiaho, and can be accessed across all the mobile app stores.