Roberval Tavares
Ashoka Fellow since 2018   |   Nigeria

Ngu Morcho

Yako Medical Africa
Ngu Morcho is transforming the healthcare system in Nigeria to be accessible, affordable and people-centered. He is incorporating digital technology to empower key players and patients’ community and…
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This description of Ngu Morcho's work was prepared when Ngu Morcho was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2018.


Ngu Morcho is transforming the healthcare system in Nigeria to be accessible, affordable and people-centered. He is incorporating digital technology to empower key players and patients’ community and raising awareness about prevention. To do this, he is breeding new cohorts of healthcare entrepreneurs.

The New Idea

Ngu is revolutionizing the healthcare system and making it convenient and affordable for all by integrating the care ecosystem to manage patients experience from early screening through to disease management. He is reducing delays in healthcare facilities by bringing together healthcare services in one place for easy access such that everyone can access the same health service in the same facility.

To increase innovations in the healthcare sector, Ngu is positioning healthcare professionals to develop innovative solutions that increase access to care to all people in Nigeria.

The Problem

The Nigerian health system is greatly underserved despite Nigeria’s position in Africa. Health facilities are not well equipped, private hospitals are very expensive and not accessible to the poor, and the primary health centers offer sub-optimal services as a result of poor funding. Every year the country loses billions of dollars to medical tourism in addition to losing the lives of those who cannot travel elsewhere for high quality healthcare, because the standard of healthcare cannot handle severe medical conditions.

In Nigeria, doctors are not properly remunerated, making them take up employment offers in other countries. This causes enormous brain-drain in the medical profession, causing many healthcare facilities to be understaffed. In addition to the doctor to patient ratio of 1 to 1,000 reported by the World Bank, there is lack of adequate facilities for screening, diagnosis and management of diseases and medical doctors are more concerned with providing healthcare for people who can afford it. Poor Nigerians, which account for 70 percent of the population, still lack access to healthcare facilities as a result of not being able to afford paying out of pocket for screening, consultation and treatment. In most healthcare facilities, people wait for several hours just to see a doctor.

To achieve success for all in the healthcare sector, a well-rounded program that comprises the health indices need to be designed to especially meet the health needs of the poor. Healthcare facilities need to be adequately equipped to reduce waiting period of patients, and huge investment of funding is needed to ensure that healthcare facilities are well-equipped and that healthcare personnel get the trainings they need to manage the growing population.

The Strategy

Ngu understands that one of the ways to change the healthcare system in Nigeria is to breed new cohorts of young health entrepreneurs. He wants to show that in the healthcare sector , an entrepreneurial approach would help attract innovative ideas as well as investment. Currently, the system operates without any entrepreneurial spirit, with doctors just charging the patients, and the potential patients are incognizant of the options for improving health. Ngu developed an incubator, using lean start-up principles to develop innovative world class healthcare solutions to help solve some of the healthcare problems in Nigeria. The young changemakers are equipped with the skills to develop innovative social enterprise in healthcare solutions and Ngu helps them refine their ideas and scale their work in Nigeria.

To educate people in health issues, Ngu partners with young doctors to carry out community awareness programs in various communities, schools, churches and mosques. In doing so, people became more aware of chronic diseases and are changing their behaviors to be more proactive rather than reactive. The health campaigns help the people seek more information as well as develop better health practices that helps them prevent chronic health diseases. He does these campaigns with young doctors to enable them to gain first-hand experiences and assess healthcare situations on the ground, and then get them to begin thinking of healthcare entrepreneurship to attract investment into the sector, in order to drive down the cost of healthcare rather than merely delivering healthcare services.

To lower the cost of healthcare he partners with hospitals, he partners with hospitals, individual investors from Nigeria, Cameroon and the United States who contribute money in exchange for shares. He uses this resource to buy up diagnostic centers and changes the equipment at the hospitals with modern and more effective equipment deploying nationwide screening centers. Ngu reduces the cost of the previously inefficient waiting period by creating access for patients to screening facilities, making it more efficient and affordable as a result of the fact that more people can now access the facility, driving down the cost of screening. In partnership with a leading technology company in India, Ngu developed a screening system that creates a closed loop and connects general practitioners across Nigeria to world class cardiologists globally, backed by artificial intelligence and the most comprehensive database of ECG results. The program consists of an online and offline platform, providing the most accurate and comprehensive interpretation of screening results and it is made affordable to all people. This system has reduced the waiting period from one hour to six minutes making the process much more efficient and easier for patients to access. The screening of patients is done in Nigeria, and within 6 minutes the result is sent to the cloud and is analyzed by a group of specialist doctors then sent back to Nigeria and verified by specialist Nigerian doctors before the result is released to the patient within one hour. Ngu has already signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Cameroon government to launch similar system of national medical equipment renovation there. In his system, the poor people have a significant discount and his organization generates revenue through arrangement with companies and organizations to screen their employees.

In 2018 he set up 2 diagnostic centers and a screening center in Lagos Nigeria, he is planning to reach 400 clinics in 2019 and in three years and he is planning to reach the entire country. In 2018 already 150 doctors want to enroll in Yako Medical and have him deploy his system to their clinics.

His long term goal is to build a leadership institute planned for 2019 which will be critical to introduce new entrepreneurial way of approaching medical system problems. In 2023 he plans to reach all hospitals in Africa.

The Person

Ngu was born and raised in Douala, Cameroon in Central Africa, as the first of five children to a middle-class family. As a child, Ngu saw loved ones die young as a result of lack of medical attention, and his parents and friends often got nervous each time someone needed to be admitted to the local hospitals. His father did not complete secondary education, but sponsored the education of all his siblings, cousins and extended family and in most cases, up to doctorate degrees. His father helped build the first primary school in their village and insisted that all his children will be educated to enable them to change the trajectory of Cameroon.

In 1981, Ngu lost his paternal grandfather to complications from amputation of the right foot due to a diabetic ulcer and the local hospitals did not have enough of the antibiotics he needed. Shortage of the right medicine alongside financial lack within the family led to his death.

In 2004, Ngu made the decision to change the healthcare system in Africa when he lost his father to prostate cancer. Ngu believes that if his father had detected earlier and accessed better health infrastructure and support systems, his father would have been saved. After the death of his father Ngu decided to enroll at Rice University in Houston, Texas for an Executive MBA with a focus on International Strategy & Entrepreneurship after which he started his professional career with the US Navy as an Electrical Technician, after working in navy ships over a 4-year period, Ngu wanted to be closer home he got a job with Pfizer as a field and hospital account manager where he developed his skills in healthcare sales management. He left Pfizer for AlphaDev LLC, one of the first healthcare-focused venture capital firms in Houston, where he worked on how to convert early stage technologies into successful healthcare businesses, here Ngu learnt how to incubate and scale innovative healthcare businesses. Prior to founding Yako Medical, Ngu became the General Manager for West & Central Africa and the Project Development Leader for Sub-Sahara Africa for GE Healthcare, he took this job because he wanted to understudy healthcare enterprise in Africa and figure out the best ways to start up a healthcare solution that will enable poor and rich to access medical care and treatment at affordable prices.

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