5 Health Startups Saving Lives Around The World [LIST]

With advances in technology - especially in the mobile phone arena - these amazing organizations are working to solve basic and complex health issues.

A stethoscope on a laptop

Health plus technology equals positive impact on lives around the world (smolaw / Shutterstock.com)

These five health startups are set to play huge roles in developing countries, especially for the coming generations of citizens who are growing up in the digital age. While health in the developing world is a huge issue, with advances in technology - especially in the mobile phone arena - health organizations and startups are working together to solve basic and complex health issues. 
These health startups are also using their creativity to prove that no matter where you are or how poor you are, fundamental healthcare is accessible. 


Sweet Bites aims to achieve its aim in the tastiest way possible: using a chewing gum sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar substitute scientifically proven to prevent and reverse tooth decay. Many years of tooth decay leave billions of individuals with painful consequences: missing teeth, eroded gums, and chronic diseases such as periodontitis (gum disease), oral cancer, and elevated risk for strokes and heart attacks. In a vicious cycle, visibly decaying teeth can keep a person held down in the impoverished environment that set them up for poor health in the first place. Chewing Sweet Bites gum after meals can stop this progression towards poor dental health at its first step, by preventing cavities. Dental health is often de-prioritized until the problem is too painful to ignore, at which point the only available solution is often getting the tooth pulled - an expensive, unpleasant procedure. Chewing xylitol gum, on the other hand, is a delicious and inexpensive way to keep a child’s smile beautiful and healthy for life. 


REACH Diagnostics was founded to provide urban slum citizens with access to inexpensive diagnostic tools that will promote detection and regular screening of non-communicable diseases. The organization empowers urban slum citizens with employment opportunities as salespeople and advocates of a healthier lifestyle to disrupt the current vicious poverty-illness cycle consuming urban slum citizens. REACH Diagnostic’s vision is to build a healthier and economically empowered future for urban slum citizens around the world. REACH Diagnostics was born out of a desire to disrupt the current health inequalities overshadowing urban slums while improving the life of underprivileged slum citizens through early diagnosis, treatment practices, care initiatives and eventual prevention. 


HRMB (“Harambee” which means “Let’s pull together” in swahili) aims to implement a holistic, cost effective and scalable intervention to tackle the issue of vision correction in urban slums. The startup believes is that every human being has the right to good eyesight, and aims to give every slumdweller in the world access to affordable quality glasses - to lead themselves to a better future. Harambee makes eyeglasses production and delivery community-driven, thus improving the lives of the visually-impaired as well as the community. With a specially-designed bending machine, local slum dwellers can produce the glasses themselves. In two weeks, locals can either learn the trade or become micro-entrepreneurs. With a two-staged channel model, by first approaching schools and churches before setting up mobile shops, Harambee aims to increase accessibility to eye care to urban slums.


NanoHealth is chronic disease specialist, providing holistic services for chronic disease management at reasonable prices - at the doorstep of slum-dwellers. The team at NanoHealth are convinced that intervention at any one point in the disease value chain is not enough to solve the problem of under-diagnosis, poor treatment and compliance. Rather, NanoHealth aims to create a network of health workers (called “Saathis” means “a friend”) and hand them a “Dox-in-Box”, which can take vitals and risk-profile the patients for diabetes and hypertension. Saathi and Dox-in-Box also provide monitoring services after the disease is confirmed by a doctor in the NanoHealth network. By adding doctors and pharmacies to its network, NanoHealth becomes one step shop for all services related to chronic disease management in lower socioeconomic communities. 


According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of diabetes has accelerated the most in urbanized areas of developing countries due to higher risk factors such as lack of physical activity and easy access to fast food. The threat of diabetes in developing countries is particularly worrying as over a third of those living with diabetes are unaware of their health situation. Late diagnosis and delay in diabetes management can lead to many health complications and a higher rate of morbidity. Bee Healthy is a social business with an innovative solution to diabetes detection in urban slums. They use bees’ olfactory systems to provide free diabetes screening to slum dwellers. Recent studies demonstrate that bees can be used to diagnose diseases including diabetes.