Can We Create a Healthier, Wealthier Africa with Behavioural Science?

Together with the Joep Lange Institute and the Amsterdam Health and Technology Institute (AHTI), the Global team hosted a workshop titled “A healthier, wealthier Africa: Behavioural science, digital innovation, and beyond” on August 8th, at Strathmore University.

The workshop speakers brought a range of experiences in entrepreneurship, academia, experimental design, and change leadership to talks and a panel exploring what behaviorally informed-solutions for financial inclusion, wellness, and poverty alleviation can look like now and in the future.

The event built on increasing recognition of the importance of embedding behavioural science into designing for impact, and was an example of how international partnerships are approaching conversations around innovations in fighting poverty and healthcare financing.

Dan Ariely commented about this event:

“In general we make lots of attempts to try and get people to behave in a way that is in their own long term best interests, but when we make these attempts without understanding the true nature of human behaviour, these attempts are very likely to fail. This is the same for human beings across the world, from East Africa to Europe or the US. What behavioural economics gives us is a true foundation to understanding what really drives behaviour. With plans for Universal Health Coverage, Kenya is at an important juncture in making progress toward health and wellness. When we create interventions with behavioural economics incorporated, we are much more likely to succeed, so I’m excited about the conversations happening in Nairobi and across the continent, now and into the future.”

The following are 4 key takeaways from the presentations:

  • Behavioral Science has the potential to bridge the intention-behavior gap.

Principal of Global Health and Development, Ting Jiang, gave examples of how behavioral science can save lives by enabling practitioners to make more accurate problem diagnoses and apply BE informed interventions that bridge the gap between intention and behavior.

  • Digital Innovation can help improve the mental health of a population

With lack of access, price, and stigma as the leading roadblocks to accessing mental health services in Kenya, Alex Royea gave an excellent presentation on how Amka Life is using bots to make mental health services more accessible. You can read more on this from his presentation:  Using Bots and Tech to Scale Mental Health Solutions.

  • Experimental design is extremely important to Behavioral Science

David Clarance painted a clear picture of the importance of testing Behavioral Science solutions based on previous research. You can read more on this from his presentation: Experiment Design in Practice.

  • Implementing sustainable healthcare solutions in action

Access Afya runs low-cost, affordable clinics within Nairobi tailored for the global mass market. The organization also sells health subscriptions to factories and schools. On the other hand, ahti supports entrepreneurs, both start-ups and scale-ups, to generate solutions for better health, care, and costs by providing hands-on mentorship and access to their extensive network of healthcare institutions. You can read more on these in Melissa Menke’s and Laurens Van Hoorn’s presentations.