Kisumu, Kenya, Oct 26, 2023 — Maisha Meds, a leading digital health organization in Africa, today announced that it received $5.25 million in scale-up Stage 3 funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Development Innovation Ventures (DIV).
The three-year grant will support Maisha Meds’ expansion efforts to reach people in need of affordable, high-quality malaria care across Africa through private drug shops, pharmacies, and clinics that often serve as their first — and sometimes only — point of care. With additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Maisha Meds plans to expand its mobile software to 7,500 total pharmacies and clinics by the end of the grant period, delivering subsidized care to nearly a million patients in the process.
“Frontline pharmacies provide the bulk of malaria care across many parts of Africa outside of the formal health system, and technology can play an important role in improving the quality of care that they provide,” said Dr. Jessica Vernon, founder and chief executive officer of Maisha Meds. “We are thrilled that USAID DIV has provided additional support to scale our innovation in partnership with governments and pharmacy owners.”
Stage 3 grants, DIV’s highest level of funding, help innovators scale up proven, cost-effective approaches to critical global challenges. Maisha Meds leverages partner funds to incentivize healthcare providers to follow best practices in malaria care, and to offer discounted testing and treatment to patients. Maisha Meds delivers similar support for family planning and HIV prevention.
Prior to this grant, a randomized controlled study conducted in collaboration with researchers from Emory University and the University of California, Berkeley demonstrated that the Maisha Meds platform more than quadrupled the rate at which providers followed malaria testing and treatment protocols.
At baseline, research shows more than 9 in 10 people who buy malaria medications at private pharmacies and clinics don’t get tested. This is a problem because over half do not actually have malaria. Proper testing and treating of potential malaria cases not only improves the quality of care people receive but may also help delay drug resistance, which is eroding the effectiveness of current malaria medications.
About Maisha Meds
Founded in 2017, Maisha Meds has created the largest digital network of private pharmacies and clinics in East Africa through mobile software that delivers subsidized care. Maisha Meds not only helps these businesses improve operations by making sales, managing inventory, and tracking patients. It also reimburses them for providing high-quality malaria, family planning, and HIV prevention products at discounted rates.
Our app is currently used by more than 2,600 pharmacies across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria, logs 10 million patient encounters annually, and has reimbursed over 250,000 patient visits to date. In randomized controlled research, our platform more than quadrupled the rate at which providers followed malaria testing and treatment protocols, from 8 to 33%. A separate study on family planning showed a similarly sharp 480% increase in the uptake of long-acting injectable contraceptives.
By harnessing the power of a vast but fragmented private sector, Maisha Meds improves access and outcomes for patients, supports pharmacies and clinics that often serve as their first and only point of contact, and generates vital data and research on global health and market trends.
About USAID DIV Stage 3 Funding
Made possible by the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) provides grant funding to innovators and researchers to test new ideas, take strategic risks, build evidence of what works, and advance the best solutions. Its tiered-funding model ensures that funding is targeted to the most cost-effective innovations that can improve people’s lives. Stage 1 grants support innovation pilots. Stage 2 grants support rigorous testing to determine impact or market viability. And Stage 3 grants, DIV’s highest level of funding, transitions proven approaches to widespread scaling in new contexts or new geographies.