For several decades, the stigma surrounding sexual and mental health in Africa has grown to the point that, as a result of inaction, the continent now leads the world in both STI and mental health cases.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 11 individuals per 100,000 people die by suicide each year in Africa, which is higher than the global average of 9 per 100,000 people. Additionally, with over 80 million cases per year, the sub-Saharan region has the second-highest incidence of STIs after Southeast Asia.
To this end, U.S.-based venture capital firm Lightspeed Ventures is now backing Berry Health, a Ghanaian startup founded by Fredua A. Akosa (a general medical practitioner) with a $1.6 million pre-seed round. This funding makes Lightspeed's first investment in Africa.
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Berry Health offers remote diagnosis through telemedicine and treatment via online consultations and home delivery services for problems like anxiety, depression, sexual health, dermatology, and hair loss, starting with clients from Ghana. Patients can consult a clinical psychologist or licensed medical doctor on the platform, receive a personalized treatment plan tailored to their needs, and then have drugs delivered.
The startup plans to charge patients $26 annually to access all of its services and $5 for each clinical consultation. Berry Health, which has staff from WPP, Instacart, and Babylon Health, as well as a medical advisory board, made up of gynaecologists, dermatologists, and other specialists, has hired several medical professionals and plans to roll out its platform at the end of the month.
The models employed by Berry Health have democratized access to healthcare services traditionally limited to in-person, often expensive consultations. Additionally, it removes obstacles that have prevented access to high-quality treatment and empower a wider spectrum of patients to take charge of their health and wellness.
Other investors in the health tech’s pre-seed round include General Catalyst, Reddit COO Jen Wong; Thirty Madison co-founders Demetri Karagas and Steven Gutentag; New York tech lawyer and VC Ed and Betsy Zimmerman; and former U.S. Surgeon General under the Obama administration Regina Benjamin.