Kenya’s online pharmacy MYDAWA has secured US$1.2 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to launch the first Kenyan telehealth solution tailored to boost Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention efforts.
The project will be co-financed by the Organization of American States (OAS) in partnership with the University of Washington, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Fred Hutch Cancer Research Centre, Jhpiego and Audere.
“The service has received research approval from the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the University of Washington to develop the country’s first ever telehealth solution aimed at reducing the country’s HIV prevalence,” says the official statement.
The leading online pharmacy in Kenya further said that it had developed the first end-to-end virtual healthcare solution for customers who wish to access Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) online.
MYDAWA Founder Tony Wood said that the company will adapt its current model that ensures a seamless end to end customer-centered delivery solution for those seeking PrEP across the country.
“Specifically, this investment will leverage on MYDAWA’s well-established model to expand PrEP delivery online,” highlighted the Chief Executive Officer.
Furthermore, the online platform will use the latest funding from the Gates Foundation to launch the first end-to-end virtual PrEP/PEP service with an aim to generate evidence on virtual PrEP and PEP service delivery.
“PrEP is a medicine that can be proactively taken daily by people who are at ongoing risk of acquiring HIV. PEP is a medicine that people can take immediately after possibly being exposed to HIV to reduce the risk of getting HIV,” said MYDAWA.
In addition, the funding opportunity follows a recent report by the e-pharmacy platform indicating that approximately 38 million people worldwide are living with HIV, with close to 21 million in Eastern and Southern Africa.
It also aims to support ongoing efforts to stop the stigma associated with HIV as the need to visit an HIV clinic for PrEP has been key challenge in the uptake of PrEP.
“This is particularly apparent among populations who are vulnerable to stigma such as men who have sex with men and female sex workers,” said MYDAWA.
The Kenyan e-pharmacy further explained that the challenging environment in tackling HIV facilitated the search for a different approach to PrEP initiation through online channels that are more discrete.
“This grant is an endorsement of MYDAWA’s ability and the crucial role the company is playing at the forefront of providing access to simple and affordable self-tests for HIV and pregnancy, alongside an extensive range of sexual and reproductive health products,” Tony Wood concluded.