SOIK will improve the following indicators in 10,000 medical facilities by 2026 through improvement and dissemination of SPAQ, a digital obstetrics solution that supports general doctors, midwives, and nurses working in small-scale medical facilities in Africa.
1. Improve the quality of healthcare services
2. Increase the number of antenatal consultations
3. Reduce maternal and neonatal mortality
|Issues to be solved ||High mortality of pregnant women and newborns in Africa |
|Product / Technology / Service ||Digital Obstetrics Solution SPAQ |
|Approach ||Product development, business model innovation, research, user training, dissemination of the solution |
|Target country / area ||Africa |
|Target year of achievement ||2026 |
|Scale of the business ||At 10,000 medical facilities, 40,000 health care workers will perform 500,000 digital antenatal examinations per month. Sales of 3 billion yen in 2026. |
|Partner ||Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Specified non-profit organization Initiative for Global Perinatal Care (IGPC), Health and Tec LLC |
|Relevant target of SDGs || |
3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births
3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and and under‑5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births
SOIK was established with the objective of improving the quality of healthcare service for African people with the power of business.
For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the mortality rate of pregnant women is about 100 times more than that of Japan (1). One of the causes of the high mortality rate is the poor quality of medical services. Only 6% of medical facilities can provide the minimum service package which is defined by the government (2).
To address the issue of quality of obstetric healthcare services, we initially worked to popularize portable ultrasound devices which can be connected to smartphones. The target users are not ultrasonography technicians or specialists, but nurses and midwives in order to disseminate the solution to the small-scale medical facilities in low resource settings. We have developed a training program that allows even inexperienced people to acquire skills in a short period of time, and the technology transfer has been successfully realized. However, it turned out that there was a huge barrier before the equipment was purchased after the training and the ultrasound examination became widespread in the antenatal consultation.
One of the challenges was that echography was not incorporated into routine work at small medical facilities. We were keenly aware that unless the use of echography became a routine work, even if we provided equipment and transferred technology, it would not take root as a health service. In addition, there were challenges apart from development of device or software, such as innovation of business model to ensure financial sustainability, in order to promote widespread use through government procurement.
Also, we found that many portable medical devices that can be used in remote areas of developing countries have appeared on the market. There are many startups with high aspirations and technologies in Japan and other countries, but they still have the similar challenges as the portable ultrasound has. There are visionary people who developed the innovative products in the field in developing countries such as Africa, and even though the needs and products already existed, the solutions could not be deployed in the field.
SPAQ was born as a solution to this problem. An app that navigates the entire routine work of antenatal consultation, using IoT medical devices. In fact, in a trial conducted in Kwango province, the DRC, 88% of the 1,014 digital antenatal consultations conducted at 7 medical facilities covered ultrasound examinations. A new payment system that combines product sales, rentals, and subscriptions for government and hospitals was also tested and this business model demonstrated the feasibility to both build continuous relationships with customers and secure financial sustainability.
By creating a network of small-scale medical centers in Africa, SPAQ will promote the penetration of other promising portable medical devices into the market of health centers. As a result, local healthcare workers will get access to the latest technology faster. Our solution will enable local pregnant women and newborns to receive better services and ultimately reduce mortality.
Purpose of the project
Reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Africa
Detail of the Project
SPAQ is a smartphone-based package with medical devices of Antenatal Consultations. Medical facilities with SPAQ can provide healthcare services with quality beyond the standards set by the government. As a result, patient satisfaction will increase and more patients will come to the medical facility, which will be followed by the increase in the number of consultations. Ultimately, the improvement of the quality and access to obstetric healthcare service will contribute to the reduction of maternity and neonatal mortality.
Timeline or milestones by the achievement of the commitment, KPI for monitoring activities
1. Mortality rate of pregnant women and newborns
2. Antenatal consultation coverage
3. Number of SPAQ installation facilities
4. Number of SPAQ operators (healthcare workers)
5. Number of digital Antenatal consultation
6. Profitability of introduced medical facilities (sales for digital antenatal consultations, comparison with before introduction)
7. Number of countries and provinces where pilot projects are implemented
Precondition for achieving the commitment
1. Acquisition of external funds
2. Certification for procurement by international organizations
3. Development of algorithms to support early detection of abnormalities
4. Cost reduction of packaged IoT medical devices
Role and responsibility of each partner
1. Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Collaboration in planning and implementation of pilot projects and policy elaboration
2. Initiative for Global Prenatal Care (IGPC, Japanese NGO): Technical expertise of perinatal care
3. Health and Tec LLC: Software Development
(1) WHO, Global Health Observatory, Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) in 2017 estimates 473 for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 5 for Japan. However, the technical team in charge of maternal mortality in the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo uses the a figure of over 800.
(2) JICA Health Administration Advisor Public Notice Document
Company: SOIK Corporation
Person in charge: Kuniyuki FURUTA
Mail address: info "at" soik.co.jp
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editor：All contents including photos provided by SOIK Corporation