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Tech Startup Plans Increased Diaspora Remittances For Healthcare

WellaHealth, one of Nigeria’s health-tech startup, has established Healthsend Africa, an initiative that allows Nigerians living in diaspora to increase remittances that would be targeted at providing quality healthcare to their relatives in the country. 

The company said there is a growing dependence on the Nigerian diaspora community, who in the past eight years have significantly boosted the country’s foreign reserves through remittances. However, a scant 13 per cent of these remittances were allocated to healthcare according to a 2018 study. 

The marketing and communications lead for Wellahealth, Joseph Okoroafor, said, the health startup aims to alleviate these worries by helping Nigerians abroad send not just money, but reliable healthcare homes. 

“This Healthsend Africa solves the problem of transparency for Nigerians in the diaspora who are blindsided by the actual cost of care their loved ones receive whenever they send money. This way, we’ll also have fewer people feeling guilty for leaving their loved ones back home among the diasporan thus bringing them peace of mind,” Okoroafor explained. 

With this initiative, Nigerians abroad can top-up to pay for various healthcare services offered by WellaHealth for their loved ones back home, he averred, adding that, “Customers can top up their wallets which can then be used by their loved ones in Nigeria to purchase genuine medicine, get health insurance, request laboratory tests or even schedule a regular visit to check on their elderly or sick loved ones.

The chief executive officer, Wellahealth, Dr. Ikpeme Neto said his company’s innovative approach mirrors the rising trend of telemedicine and health-tech startups in Nigeria.

A report by Salient Advisory indicates that a combination of telemedicine and direct-to-consumer distribution has become the predominant model for health innovators founded in recent years.

 “Wellahealth believes that telemedicine will continue to grow. For this product, we have invested in bot technology to support the efforts of doctors, especially when it comes to chat conversations for requests. This technology helps provide context before being pushed to our doctors, who are on standby 24/7,” he said.

 He noted that “Among several benefits, we’re offering them peace of mind. Nigerians in the diaspora can rest easy knowing that their loved ones are well catered for. This way, they also get fund transparency, as they will know exactly how much gets spent on their loved ones.”

Noting that it is high time to harness the potential of this community to enhance local healthcare access, it said addressing the challenging healthcare landscape in Nigeria requires innovative solutions. Even though Nigeria’s healthcare landscape has its unique nuances, it shares similar challenges as most African countries: lack of sufficient funding, insufficient medical practitioners, and low accessibility to health services.

In spite of the widespread economic challenges across the continent, it is remarkable to note that individuals fund half of Africa’s healthcare expenses out-of-pocket. Nigeria is no different, with approximately 72 per cent of healthcare costs shouldered by individuals.


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