Following her nursing degree in Cameroon, Melissa was working in a hospital when a five- year-old girl called Rita passed away from anaemia caused by malaria when no blood was available. Only a few days after her death, the hospital found out that the compatible blood was available from a nearby medical facility.
According to the World Health Organisation, over 570,000 people die yearly from blood shortages and blood related complications in Africa with countries in the Sub-Saharan region being the most affected. The healthcare system in Cameroon and a host of other countries in Francophone Africa all face this challenge of providing life-saving blood and responding rapidly to the needs of patients in dire need of blood. Generally, in Cameroon when there is an urgent need for blood especially in cases of accidents and postpartum haemorrhaging, the patient depends on the blood reserves found in the hospitals they were being treated at. If the hospital does not meet their needs, the patient’s relatives often volunteer the blood themselves or pay complete strangers to donate blood. This alternative poses potential problems due to the fact that the blood is in most cases not appropriately tested, especially in the case of emergencies where only basic tests are performed such as compatibility, HIV and Hepatitis.
Infuiss has created a digital supply-chain platform that gives hospitals access to ready-to-use blood. The platform allows hospitals to check blood availability in the local area and request blood reserves from other nearby hospitals. The hospital puts in a request via call or sms and Infuiss then coordinates the transport of the required blood from the nearest hospital via motorbike. Since beginning their work, the Infuiss team came to realise that the problem didn’t just lie in access to blood (requiring a service to transport the blood to hospitals that need it) but that there were real shortages in the blood required. Thus they have begun their own in-house blood bank running blood drives to compensate for these shortages.
Infuiss generates income by charging the hospitals a yearly service fee for access to the platform and a transportation fee per pint of blood. They also launched their own blood bank in November and have sold over 300 bags direct to customers or public hospitals who can’t afford the fee for the platform.
Since starting Infuiss in January 2017, they have now transported 3,800 bags of blood via hospital requests and sold 300 bags from their own blood bank direct to customers equating to around 2000 people impacted.
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