HealthcareHow Can Technology Boost Healthy Living Lifestyles in Rwanda ?

Tunga Elsa NdibwamiMarch 28, 202324316 min

Everything we do is majorly powered by our health. Health issues have always been the leading causes of low socio-economic development. According to WHO, Health is a state of complete “physical”, “mental”, and “social well-being” and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In this article, we explore how we can use technology to boost health living lifestyles in Rwanda.

Health living is crucial for people in all countries to reach their full potential which results in communities’ wealth and development. Poor health always leads to diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, depression, diabetes, arthritis as well as certain types of cancer which in turn contributes to the burden of disease, thus affecting the economic development of Rwanda.

Rwanda’s healthcare sytem status:

According to the 2021 Global Nutrition Report, Rwanda is still lagging in achieving the diet-related non-communicable disease (NCD) targets. The country still has a long way to go to achieve the target for obesity.

Statistics illustrate that 11.5% of adults (aged 18 years and over) and 2.5% of adult men are living with obesity. Additionally, Rwanda’s obesity prevalence is lower than the regional average of 20.7% for women and 9.2% for men. Also, Diabetes is estimated to affect 5.5% of adult women and 5.5% of adult men.

Intentional daily practice of healthy habits like consuming a balanced diet such as a low-fat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and living an active life contributes to maintaining a healthy weight. Those habits could involve doing low-intensity workouts like walking or high-intensity workouts such as cardio. Being physically active stimulates brain chemicals known as dopamine that make people relaxed and happy.

Moreover, Working out provides more energy which is needed to perform daily tasks. Also, It leads to a better physique, which raises self-esteem and confidence. Social connections also contribute positively to our overall mental health.

Tech integration & adoption – A solution to boost healthy living:

Health campaigns do a great job of influencing people to lead healthy lifestyles but are starting to lose their power considering how the world is being digitalized. In addition, Working remotely and a fast shift to using online services for almost everything provide investment opportunities for health tech companies to use technology to build nutrition, fitness, and wellness apps. Technology will help humans lead healthier lives, discover new types of medicine that will treat such deadly diseases as Alzheimer’s, and cancer, or assist many in dealing with depression.

Implementation of health and wellness technology:

Vitals tracking

Wellness technology is software or hardware that many organizations use to identify health issues, prevent diseases, promote wellness programs that help lead a healthy way of life, and foster employees’ mental and physical well-being. Read more.

Even though life expectancy has been raised due to the understanding of healthy lifestyle principles, we still suffer from various illnesses that prevent us from enjoying a decent and productive life. That being the case, Health and wellness technology can offer a Simple, cost-effective way and modern way to boost our lifestyles.

It is high time to learn from companies in the US and worldwide in terms of how they help their employees, especially those that have “white-collar lifestyles.” Workers who do not care about their mental and physical health are prone to being contra-productive and they usually underperform which is quite expensive for many employers.

Lifesten Health LLC and Dot pharma offer digital health solutions to Rwandans.

Lifesten Health LLC, a health tracking and management start-up company that provides incentive-based wellness programs that empower people to achieve their health goals in a fun, exciting, and rewarding manner.

This is done through exciting health challenges, Workplace wellness programs, and creating pockets of empowering communities to help and motivate people to achieve their desired health targets. Lifesten uses a health app called “Lifesten Health”, a digital health platform that delivers web and mobile solutions to help people manage their nutrition, mindfulness, health and well-being.

Lifesten integrates physical health with nutrition and mental wellness by collaborating with certified healthcare providers, and fitness and wellness centers to put together personalized health plans and challenges to avoid getting lifestyle diseases such as non-communicable diseases namely cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Dot pharma is another health tech start-up company in Rwanda that allows its customers to order medicines and other health and personal care products and get them delivered to them. The company also directs people to facilities with medical specialties that are hard to access. In addition, they offer health tips to help their customers achieve their health goals with understanding.

Owing to the support in terms of funding, mentorship and growth from Norrsken House Kigali and the Novartis Foundation, Lifesten Health LLC and Dot pharma are able to add value in the health sector of Rwanda.

Norrsken East Africa operates the Norrsken House in Kigali, the biggest hub for entrepreneurs in the region and is part of the Norrsken Foundation, a non-profit, aimed at helping entrepreneurs solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Norrsken House Kigali in partnership with the Novartis Foundation initiated the Health Tech Hub Africa, an investment push with the aim of revolutionizing the development of health technologies designed by Africans for use in Africa.

These technologies help in fighting against lifestyle diseases. Moreover, The Novartis Foundation aims to improve the health of low-income populations by working with local authorities and partners to bring about the improvement of the health in low-income populations through the elimination of diseases and to re-engineer health systems from being reactive to proactive, predictive, and preventative.

Other Health and fitness apps:

Health and fitness apps like “MyFitnessPal” can provide users with the ability to track exercise and food consumption for daily accountability. Moreover, nutrition apps like “Allrecipes Dinner Spinner” and “yummly” assist users to develop healthy eating habits by learning new recipes or creating a meal plan.

Also, Heart Rate Monitors like “Fitbit” and “Apple Watch” give a more accurate reading of calories burned. Last but not least, Medical and Mental Health Access with Telehealth Apps such as TimelyMD, a platform designed to provide instant access to mental and physical healthcare 24/7/365 without the need of moving from one place to another. Read more.

Our health is our wealth. That is, our present and future depend on our health status. Therefore, investing in our wealth would lead to development in all areas of our personal lives while at the same time contributing to the socioeconomic development of our country, Rwanda. Hence, the fastest way is through the integration of technology to boost the practice of a healthy lifestyle.

Tunga Elsa Ndibwami

Tunga Elsa Ndibwami is a dedicated professional and a continuous learner, with experience in research, and project management. Tunga holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Rwanda, where she studied Biotechnology, where her passion for scientific research grew. Currently, Tunga is the project manager at Smolleys, a digital bank for kids fostering financial literacy, and an intern at Cue Africa, developing her research, leadership, and project management skills. Prior to joining Smolleys and Cue Africa, Tunga was a professional intern at Rwanda Standards Board assisting in the laboratory analysis of samples to ensure compliance with Standard Specifications. In all her work, Tunga is always looking for ways to merge her various passions to create something new that will positively impact people’s lives for the better.

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