German Chancellor Celebrates Kenyan Health App-Developers at the IDF

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, meeting with the winners: Ethredah Chao and Jackson Kiarie at the Kanzleramt in Berlin

A Kenyan Healthcare app was last week named as the “Most Promising App” by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel during the International German Forum (Deutschlandforum) held in Berlin.

Last week was the International German Forum in Berlin themed “Global Health and Innovation”. Around 120 German and international experts from politics, business, academia and civil society jointly explored innovative e-health solutions.

Developed by Ethredah Chao, Jackson Kiarie and team, Afya-Plan, a Kenyan app that builds a health insurance scheme based on Chamas was named the “Most Promising App”. It’s estimated that 3.2 billion euros are circulated through chamas in Kenya, a worthwhile starting point in providing health care to many without health insurance.

The scheme that banks on MPesa, would have members of a chama saving a specific amount regularly (daily/weekly). The members could then take a loan from the savings in case they fall ill. For safety the money would be sent directly to the hospital. The member would then be required to pay back the loan plus a small fee, once they were back on their feet.

However, the team is yet to develop a plan on how to handle defaulters, but with the support that comes as part of their award, the team will continue to work on the idea and hopefully launch it into the market soon.

Last year, Germany’s ministry of international cooperation and development in Nairobi organised the “Hacking for Health” competition. The competition put together groups of programmers together and had them develop an App within 72 hours to help solve Kenyan health challenges, each of them aiming to secure a healthy future of children and adolescents in their home country. Three Kenyan teams made it through the  finals namely:


  • An app-based micro health insurance scheme
    The idea of the team is to build on “chamas” (community savings groups) to build a micro health insurance platform to which members can make payments though M-PESA, a mobile phone based money transfer service.
  • A platform allowing young Kenyan’s to learn about ‘taboo’ topics
    The idea is to offer a platform for young people to ask questions they’re unable to discuss with their parents. Experts in adolescent health and mental health professionals would provide the information on the platform as well as mentoring and personal advice to users of the portal.
  • A messaging service to ensure early referrals of pregnant mothers to skilled health care
    The plan here is to connect traditional birth attendants, skilled healthcare providers and pregnant mothers through a digital messaging service, which could be both app- and SMS-based.
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