NetworkingBabylon gives millions more Rwandans access to digital-first healthcare in next step towards digitising Rwanda’s healthcare system

Babylon, in collaboration with Rwanda’s National ID Agency (NIDA), have taken another step towards creating one of Africa’s most advanced digital-first primary care services. By removing a major barrier to healthcare access for Rwandans they have seen a considerable increase in both registrations and appointments, especially among women.

Since 2016, Rwandans have been able to register for Babyl via their mobile phone using their National ID number. This process was quick and easy, however, was restricted to people with a registered mobile. Babylon developed new processes and functionality to change the way a patient’s identity is verified so that non-phone owners can register, have a digital consultation with a doctor or nurse and receive a prescription all from any shared digital or analog device using their national ID.

This is important in Rwanda where phone subscriptions can often be held by only one person in any given household and is essential as low-smartphone ownership means that the Babyl service operates on a text-based USSD platform, which is available on even the most basic style feature phones.

Since this product update was rolled out in April, Babyl has seen a 64% increase in female registrations and a 55% increase in consultations. As a result, Babyl’s doctors and nurses now carry out over 5,000 consultations a day, with that number having grown from an average of 3,000 per day earlier in the year.

Babyl’s Managing Director, Shivon Byamukama said: “I’m proud that Babylon has been able to remove another barrier to healthcare for Rwandans, especially for women. We’re committed to working with the Government and relevant authorities, such as NIDA, to continually improve and innovate Rwanda’s healthcare system as they become one of most advanced countries for digital health. This important change brings us one step closer to our mission of putting high-quality accessible and affordable healthcare in the hands of every person on Earth.”

Rwanda has been leading the way for technological innovation in Africa, with the Government being wholly supportive of a digital transformation. Babylon launched Babyl in Rwanda in 2016 in partnership with the Government of Rwanda with the aim of creating Africa’s first universal primary care service utilizing a digital-first approach. Babyl has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support this partnership.

Since then, over 30% of the adult population has registered with Babyl, whose doctors and nurses have completed over 2 million consultations. The service is available to all Rwandans over the age of 12 and is integrated into the country’s National Insurance Scheme.

In 2020, with the service going from strength to strength, Babylon signed a 10 year agreement with the Government of Rwanda, to work together to digitise Rwanda’s health system, including the introduction of Babylon’s AI technology which is due to be launched later this year.


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