laptop and stethoscope

Filling The African Health Data Gap

I recently tweeted about my frustration trying to find some African health care data. This feeling was exacerbated by the incredible ease with which I was able to find corresponding data from Europe and America.

Ayo, a pharmacist friend suggested it could start with us. So i dug into our database to try and gain some insights from the small data we have collected so far in our work at Wella Health.

A little disclaimer:

Our data is still quite crude, not very large and suffers plenty of biases. It is not yet sufficiently powered or random enough to be statistically significant. I believe however that the rough trends it shows can deliver some helpful insights. In any case in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. Here’s what we found.

In about 6 months, we’ve reached over 40 community pharmacies, who’ve dispensed over 400 unique medications to close to 2000 patients. We’ve seen diverse drugs from the likes of Rivaroxaban to Bromocriptine.

What can our data tell us so far:

Q1. What are the commonly dispensed drug classes?

This data suggests, that the disease burden is still majorly infectious

Q2. What are the commonly dispensed drugs?

Panadol is a very strong brand coming in at number 3 despite its generic form paracetamol being number one. Nigeria is full of ‘headaches’ so this may not surprising. Malaria and other infectious diseases continue to be the biggest burden in Nigerian communities. The use of Vitamin C as a cold remedy seems rampant. Practitioners may consider reviewing this Cochrane paperthat indicates its routine use as somewhat unjustified.

Q3. What anti-malarial brands are most in use?

Coartem seems to be most loved of all anti-malarials. Novartis would be proud.

Q4. Anti-hypertensives follow the anti-infectives in use, can you tell us anything about drugs of choice?

The calcium channel blocker Amlodipine, leads the way, both singularly and in a combination pill. The appearance of Exforge, a relatively more expensive drug perhaps betrays particular targeting by users of our service.

Looking at the data has been quite interesting for us and has given us more ideas on how we can improve our service, provide more value and improve data quality.

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