Daru Labs: Enhancing Diagnostic Care Across Africa
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Mitch Kurylowicz, CEO
The situation of healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa remains grim, with many countries struggling to provide primary healthcare to their citizens. The continent with the lowest global health expenditure and the highest population growth rate requires holistic approaches across several verticals to attract the necessary investment to tackle growing challenges. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), Sub-Saharan Africa contributes more than 90 percent to the global burden of malaria infection. On top of that, anemia is another cause for worry with its high prevalence among pregnant women and children below five years of age in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries. Dr. Obichi Obiajunwa, COO at Daru Labs, observes that “tens of millions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have an adequate solution to be tested for malaria and anemia.” A high-quality diagnostic test generally comes at an exorbitant price and takes days for results, forcing the rural and underprivileged population to opt for an unregulated diagnostic center where no tests are conducted before administering medicines. A faulty diagnostic in treating fever can lead to an imminent danger of resistance to antimicrobial medications due to indiscriminate use of antibiotics and artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACTs). This is where Daru Labs comes into the picture with a high-quality, low-cost novel technology solution for accurate diagnostic treatments of malaria and anemia within minutes.
Founded by medical doctors, biophysicists, and entrepreneurs at Unbox Ventures, an accelerator in Israel, Daru Labs is driven by the mission to provide simple and highly sensitive diagnostic equipment for the lowest-income families across Africa. The company’s diagnostic solution makes malaria diagnosis readily available, accessible, and affordable for everyone in need of it. Also, a combination test of malaria and hemoglobin count makes it even more pertinent to diagnose anemia, one of the most common malaria complications for both adults and children. The Daru Labs diagnostic solution is comprised of three parts. The first is an easy-to-use, robust, and affordable diagnostic tool that leverages proven technology, coupled with proprietary optical innovations. The second part of the Daru Labs diagnostic solution is a low-cost consumable microfluidic chip, which is designed to satisfy the need for the express delivery of a blood sample-based malaria-anemia combined diagnosis. And finally, the solution offers a mobile phone app, creating the first broad patient medical record service in Sub-Saharan Africa for cloud-storage of patient and diagnosis data. “After collecting the blood sample, it is passed through the microfluidic chip that separates out infected blood cells. Data from that patient’s blood is then stored and secured on the vendor’s mobile phone, following an analysis of the blood by our algorithm to produce binary and easily interpreted results,” Eugene Brozgol, CTO at Daru Labs, summarizes the company’s diagnosis solution.
Dr. Obichi Obiajunwa, COO
Daru Labs is leveraging technologies that have already proven effective in Western markets and is translating them into simple and effective solutions for Africa.
Our diagnostic solution is built for less-than-favorable working conditions that require no medical knowledge for the vendor and no trip to the lab or wait time for the patient
Unlike many companies we see in the diagnostics space, Daru Labs let the needs of its customers inform the solution they developed. Rather than building a technology and seeing where it might fit, the company invested significantly in surveying relevant parties, understanding the patients’ requirements, and building relationships with people in the ecosystem before developing the solution and growth plan. With the travel ban across the globe due to COVID 19, Daru Labs hired analysts in Nigeria to meet representative customers in person to survey vendors and patients on their needs and price sensitivities. This is why the cost of per-test diagnostic equipment, data analysis and cloud storage are well under the known willingness-to-pay for existing low-quality diagnostics in Nigeria. Given the acute shortage of healthcare professionals in Africa, and especially in Nigeria (42,000 doctors for 200,000,000 people), the company’s diagnostic tool is highly instructional and requires very minimal expertise to carry out a successful diagnostic procedure. Mitch Kurylowicz, CEO at Daru Labs, says, “Our diagnostic solution is built for less-than-favorable working conditions that require no medical knowledge for the vendor and no trip to the lab or wait time for the patient.” Additionally, the transition from drawing blood to seeing the result on the patient’s smartphone requires very little engagement from the vendor.
The company boasts a very proficient and geographically diverse team of professionals from Nigeria, Israel, and Canada. The core team of Daru Labs comprises Dr. Obichi Obiajunwa, a medical doctor and public health expert in Nigeria; Dr. Irena Bronstein Berger, a double Ph.D. in Biology and Biophysics; and Eugene Brozgol, a former army commander turned physicist. The team is led by Mitch Kurylowicz, a social entrepreneur who has been traveling to Africa since the age of nine and is a recipient of the Mandela Family’s Legacy Award for his work in the continent’s commercial and non-profit landscapes. The company is currently focused on solving the diagnostic challenges for malaria and anemia in Nigeria and has plans to expand to other Sub-Saharan African countries soon. “Africa has seen great success stories in telecommunications, energy and finance. Daru Labs believes that healthcare in Africa is the next leapfrog opportunity to see exponential returns, with us at the forefront. Daru Labs was built to create high financial and impact multiples for Africa and sees no reason to sacrifice on either type of return,” concludes Kurylowicz.
Management Mitch Kurylowicz, CEO and Dr. Obichi Obiajunwa, COO
Description Daru Labs offers a high-quality, low-cost novel technology solution for accurate diagnostic treatments of malaria and anemiafor Nigeria and the Sub-Saharan African region. Founded by medical doctors, biophysicists, and entrepreneurs at Unbox Ventures, an accelerator in Israel, Daru Labs is driven by the mission to provide simple and highly sensitive diagnostic equipment for the lowest-income families across Africa. The company's diagnostic solution makes malaria diagnosis readily available, accessible, and affordable for everyone in need of it. Also, a combination test of malaria and hemoglobin count makes it even more pertinent to diagnose anemia, one of the most common malaria complications for both adults and children
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