Joining forces with the European Space Agency to make healthcare accessible worldwide

Joining forces with the European Space Agency to make healthcare accessible worldwide

Too many people in emerging countries are unable to obtain affordable access to healthcare due to a lack of social security, while huge gaps in coverage exist that are not being met by public services or private insurance. To help tackle this issue, AXA is joining forces with the European Space Agency (ESA) in a partnership that will enable ESA’s cutting-edge expertise in satellite technology, data management, artificial intelligence and digitization to be harnessed for the provision of seamless and sustainable healthcare.

OCTOBER 15, 2019


We spoke to Nick Appleyard, Head of Downstream Business Applications at ESA and Hassan El Shabrawishi, CEO of AXA One Health about the launch of the new partnership.

What was the impetus for this partnership between AXA and ESA?

Hassan El Shabrawishi: We met with ESA at the Internet of Things Tech Expo in Amsterdam in June 2019, where both organizations soon became very interested in the possibility of forming a partnership in areas where our goals are aligned. 
Nick Appleyard: We quickly realized that there is a lot of symmetry between our two organizations, so we developed a memorandum to formally acknowledge this common interest and we agreed to take steps to develop this synergy.

What will be the main benefits for users? 

Hassan El Shabrawishi: AXA is now a key player in the healthcare sector in Africa and we’ve found that there is a big gap between what our clients would like us to provide as a service, and what we are able to offer today. To address this gap, AXA is becoming a primary healthcare provider, with the aim of building a network of primary care clinics across the continent. There are two approaches: a bricks and mortar-type solution, or by providing things like teleconsultation for immediate access to quality care. A huge issue in Africa is that the infrastructure for digital technologies is currently lacking. So we are exploring how to leverage ESA’s satellite technology to provide remote areas with Internet coverage, as well as back up for urban areas to ensure the sustainability of our service. We aim to use digital services and technologies that don’t even exist yet in western markets, such as medication delivery to homes, teleconsultations, the concept of health coaches, and more. In addition, we will provide educational programs for our staff, and harness the power of data to inform the public so they can better manage their own healthcare. ESA is showing us how its technologies could leverage much more reliable and affordable healthcare, at costs that would have been unimaginable just 10 or 20 years ago. So the benefits to millions of African customers are threefold: accessibility, affordability and quality.

On which countries will you initially focus? 

Hassan El Shabrawishi: We started this project by looking at what we call out-of-pocket expenses, which is the amount people pay for healthcare directly from their own funds. In Africa this can reach up to 90% of total health care expenditure. Nigeria and Egypt were the obvious places to launch this program, as targeting these two countries alone would cover around 400 million people. We have assembled a dedicated AXA One Health team with a pan-African focus, but we can go beyond Africa as what we are doing here is relevant to Asia, Latin America, and some countries in Southern Europe.

Nick Appleyard: The partnership will start in Egypt, as our satellites extend around the world, so any service we develop for one market can be developed for anywhere else. Wherever the partnership allows us to open up new market access, we’ll go side-by-side with AXA into those areas. 

Are you planning to work on other joint projects in future?

Nick Appleyard: I hope so! The insurance industry is a natural partner for us. We are active in areas like infrastructure monitoring and in all forms of mobility and transport – all sorts of markets where AXA also has activities. So there are many areas of possible synergy with an organization such as AXA.

Hassan El Shabrawishi: There are so many points of interest in common that the answer is almost certainly yes. We signed our memorandum of intent between AXA and ESA, which is our first step. This memorandum is intentionally very broad because there are so many projects and technologies that ESA is willing to share with us.