High blood pressure is a common and dangerous condition.It is estimated that nearly half Kenyan adults have raised blood pressure with the majority of them being men, making it one of the highest prevalence rates across Africa. Only 20 % are aware of their hypertensive status and only about 20% of them seek medical control.
Normal blood pressure is defined as 120/90 mmHg, and one is considered hypertensive when their blood pressure reaches 140/90 mm Hg. If one has a blood pressure of more than 160/100 mmHg, they are considered severely hypertensive.
High blood pressure leads to blood vessel damage, eye damage, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure because it has no symptoms for early detection. Most victims are completely unaware of the disease and much sensitization is needed. The number of people developing high blood pressure in the country is on an upward trajectory, largely attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle.
MyAfya, a social enterprise based in Kenya, is committed to managing hypertension and its consequences and delivering innovative hypertension diagnostic solutions that are reliable and cost-effective. The solution is a combination of a device and an app that allows patients to do a variety of things: measure, keep track, keep trends in check and share such data with caregivers.
“I come from a family with a history of hypertension. A few years ago my mum was diagnosed with high blood pressure and I was so scared having seen most of my relatives die due to high blood pressure. After a lot of research on hypertension, MyAfya was born. It was my own way of ensuring she lived long enough to see all of her kids succeed”. Says Jackline, Founder, MyAfya
Care delivery to patients with hypertension and other chronic diseases is often compromised by the inability to share medical information about patients. Thus, the medication history of a patient with hypertension who changes physicians may not be fully appreciated, potentially leading to adverse drug effects.
The startup gives users tools to measure and monitor their blood pressure and weight. Theyalso, show them how they can interpret and use the data which greatly improves their health management.
MyAfya helps patients to be more engaged and proactive in their health matters. Users receive real-time feedback and continuous support without having to make frequent visits to the doctor. This helps the users to feel more in charge of their health which positively impacts their blood pressure and motivates them to take other steps such as a change in lifestyle to better manage their condition.
Self-management of hypertension is an important component of its treatment and that is why MyAfya is creating a culture of home testing. Patients who monitor their blood pressure regularly achieve better blood pressure control. Additionally, adherence to diet and lifestyle recommendations greatly improve the blood pressure levels.
MyAfya was one of the startups in Traction Camp cohort one. Traction Camp is iHub's accelerator program that connects startups across the region with the knowledge, capital and market they need to grow their business.
Here is what Jackeline, founder of MyAfrya had to say about the program.