AMREF Health Africa calls for Public-Private Partnerships to tackle health challenges in Africa

Healthcare remains a growing concern in Kenya and across Africa as governments are put to task to prioritize it in their respective countries, with a specific need to increase the role of the private sector in advancing the health agenda.

This formed the basis of a roundtable discussion organized by Amref Health Africa in a bid to provide a platform to discuss public-private partnerships with the aim of creating African solutions to African challenges in healthcare, a matter that has been discussed severally but whose implementation is yet to gather momentum.

“As the region’s health systems struggle to meet basic standards of care, many experts have come to believe that system-wide barriers are preventing greater progress. A comprehensive approach is required to overcome these barriers,” said Dr. Teguest Guerma, Director General, Amref Health Africa. “We acknowledge the Government of Kenya’s commitment to healthcare, but we also recognise that it does not have enough resources to meet the country’s health needs. It is time to strengthen public-private partnerships and Amref Health Africa is seeking to successfully harness the financial and innovative resourcefulness that both the private sector and governments have to offer so as to resolve health challenges in Africa.”

Amref is seeking to partner with corporates and the public sector to raise funding to create African solutions to African health challenges, with the aim of putting in place health systems that work for the continent. Topics discussed during the roundtable held this morning centred around the need for innovation and use of regional economic communities as drivers of development in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, health/medical insurance and technology transfer, with the aim of increasing Africa’s capacity to manage development of health care.

The roundtable session served as the launch of the Amref Health Africa International Conference set to be held in Kenya on November 24th-26th 2014. The conference is intended to open up discussions on development of strategies that can be implemented through public-private partnership to deepen access to healthcare and address the growing statistics in HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis infections, which will be top of agenda in addition to other communicable diseases.

Studies show that Africans live the shortest lives on average globally, partly due to the fact that Africa remains the continent with the lowest levels of per capita investment in health. Over 1.2 million Africans die from malaria every year despite there being varied efforts to prevent and treat it, with most of these deaths occuring in sub-Saharan Africa.

Such statistics make the case for an overhaul in Africa’s approach to healthcare, a change which will include the development and innovation of technologies that can be used to ease access to healthcare and therefore save lives.

“Millions of Africans still suffer from diseases that are relatively simple to prevent and treat, and the low usage of technology to improve healthcare remains a big challenge to enhancing health in Africa,” said Dr. John Nduba, Director of Health Programme Development at Amref. “These challenges faced in the provision of healthcare in turn affect the socio-economic development of Africa, with malaria alone for example costing the continent an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity each year.”

The Amref Health Africa International Conference will bring together health professionals, entrepreneurs, policy makers and experts from both the private and sectors in Africa to share ideas, experiences and expertise on how to move the continent’s agenda forward. Delegates will engage on matters to do with maternal health, new and emerging health priorities, environment and water resource management, as well as innovation and technology in health.

“Lack of knowledge in adequate information on preventable diseases has affected access to quality healthcare and it is critical for us to address these issues.” said Dr. Hellen Gichohi, Managing Director, Equity Group Foundation. “There is a clear need for society to demand quality health care.”

Others present at the roundtable included Amref Director General Dr. Teguest Guerma, Samsung Electronics East Africa VP and COO Robert Ngeru, Safaricom Foundation Chairman Les Bailey, Equity Bank CEO Dr. James Mwangi, Britam CEO Stephen Wandera, and GlaxoSmithKline CEO John Musunga.

Samsung has been at the forefront in partnering with organisations such as the GSMA and WHO to improve access to healthcare among pregnant women and women with young children across Africa, as well as piloting a series of Digital Villages in East and Central Africa, where doctors in remote areas or areas without connection to electricity can access internet and simple technologies to diagnose patients​.

Source: AMREF Health Africa

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