South African health-tech start-up Envisionit Deep AI has raised $1.65m (about R30m), expected to unlock the company’s next growth phase in AI-driven health care.
The company said the financial boost would fund projects to “address critical shortages in the African and emerging market health-care sector and democratise access to diagnostic imaging using AI”.
The company was recently named “Best Newcomer” in the Southern Africa leg of the African Startup Awards, which has been credited to the success of the company’s Radify AI platform, aimed to assist radiologists using AI-enhanced medical diagnosis of TB, coronavirus pneumonia, breast cancer, and other diseases.
One of the company’s founders, Dr Jaishree Naidoo, said there was a huge demand for health-care services in Africa, particularly in the field of medical diagnostics.
“In 2022 alone, we screened and triaged 64 351 patients, including 44 529 cases of pneumonia, 1 635 cases of TB and a further 127 151 pathologies. However, this is just scratching the surface – the current system can’t address the massive need and demand,” Naidoo said.
Envisionit Deep AI recently announced its investment injection by New GX Ventures SA and the GIIG Africa Fund after being named a Southern Africa regional winner at the African Startup Awards.
Naidoo said that the company was focusing specifically on introducing solutions to the mining sector, where workers had historically been at a higher risk for contracting TB due to the concentration of people in workplaces and the incidence of silicosis.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), while Africa carries 25% of the world’s disease burden, its share of health expenditure is less than 1%.
Despite this, a major push has recently been made toward detecting and diagnosing diseases in Africa, with efforts to prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses such as TB and coronavirus.
During the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the congress organiser, the GSMA and the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to introduce the HealthConnekt Africa initiative, intended to reduce the spread of disease in the continent.
The initiative seeks to connect all health facilities and workforce in Africa to the internet by 2030, which will provide the connectivity needed to eventually aid in the fight against the spread of diseases which plague the continent.