In the US, there are roughly 24.2 doctors for every 10,000 patients; in Nigeria, that ratio is closer to 4:100,000. The good news is that developing countries like Nigeria have the potential to revolutionize their own health care systems. According to Dr. Ola Orekunrin, Managing Director of Flying Doctors Nigeria (West Africa’s first indigenous air ambulance service), “In order to leapfrog the constraints imposed by their countries’ lack of modern infrastructure, Africans are increasingly taking advantage of mobile technologies.”
Dr. Orekunrin cites African tech start-ups like Ghana’s mPedigree as a prime example of healthcare advancement. With participating drug manufacturers, mPedigree embosses unique numbers to identify medicines, placing an alphanumeric code under a scratch-off panel. The consumer then scratches off the panel and texts the digits to a toll-free number to verify authenticity. It’s an efficient and inexpensive way to detect counterfeit medicines–a great threat in Africa. Studies have shown that over 30 percent of malaria drugs on the market are counterfeit. It’s estimated that 700,000 people die annually from malaria and tuberculosis due to counterfeit drugs.