Homecoming Revolution chats to a few experts about how the importance of digital health solutions can improve the diagnosis, delivery and payment of health products and services in sub-Saharan Africa.
Dr Githinji Gitahi, CEO of Group CEO at Amref Health Africa, says as mobile digital technology penetration increases in Africa, so is its use in overcoming access barriers created by low investment in health as well as geography with a significant number of people living more than 5km from a health facility.
“Across the African Continent, digital technology has been helping to address health challenges and the skills gap for healthcare workers now complicated further by covid19 containment measures. Mobile platform, LEAP by Amref Health Africa, developed to close the gap of training community health workers has been adopted across most countries in Africa including Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda to accelerate training of this cadre of community health workers as key agents in the Covid response. Further, countries have also adopted telehealth solutions to close the gap in essential services which needs access challenges to be addressed for it to scale.”
Tania Holt, Partner at McKinsey South Africa, says historically, health systems in Africa have been unable to unlock the enormous value of digital resources.
“Greater collaboration in the broader health ecosystem between the public, private and social sectors will enable end-to-end solutions that follow the entire patient journey. Having legal and regulatory frameworks that enable these solutions is important
“In Kenya we are seeing the acceleration of telemedicine services and new prescription delivery services. In South Africa, we are seeing an increase in the use of ATM Pharmacies for life saving HIV medications. WhatsApp is also being used as an interactive chat service about the coronavirus.”
She says from a skills perspective, any learnings from countries with a large African diaspora about the effects of Covid, will be valuable lessons for Africa and the HealthTech industry.
Newton Siele, Chief Executive Officer at Phillips Pharmaceuticals Kenya Ltd Pharma Division, says “10 years ago the word telemedicine and digital health innovation was reserved for academic institutions and research proposals with hardly any government paying neither attention nor Ministries of Health allocating time nor resources. Fast forward to today, and technology is a critical factor not only in planning but more and more in execution of health strategies.”
He says in Kenya, the Covid pandemic has accelerated the shift towards the increased application of telemedicine, online consultation and prescription filling with deliveries made available.
Colin Atkinson, Global Group Executive: Commercial Spesnet Group, says digital health is going to be pivotal on the continent in terms of the way healthcare delivery happens.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards the increased application of telehealth. Virtual consultations will mitigate the risk of infection for both provider and patient in terms of not only COVID-19, but any other communicable diseases. It will also help improve the delivery of health care services in remote areas in Africa. EZMed powered by the Spesnet Group have partnered with Medici (USA) have partnered to create a secure end-to-end platform with billing functionality to assist healthcare providers advance healthcare delivery in South Africa.”
Eze Nwankwo, Country Business Head at Boehringer Ingelheim MEA GmbH Nigeria, says the Health Tech sector in Africa has moved from chance to choice.
“The journey has begun in earnest. The pace would be greatly determined by African government’s participation in providing the enabling environment and halting the false appearance of support for policies to scale up quickly and meet the health needs of Africa”.
Mark Sardi, CEO at Ascendis Health South Africa:
“More than 70% of all medical decisions are made based on clinical diagnostic results. The covid outbreak has further heightened the reliance of healthcare systems on diagnostic testing. Our goal is to play a meaningful role in the combatting of pandemic through the supply of non-invasive ventilation equipment. In addition to this there are a number of other ‘med tech’ areas where we have a strong market presence.”
Angel Jones, CEO of Homecoming Revolution, says, “We’ve found that Covid has bolstered the digital repatriation of diaspora skills in the healthcare and pharmaceuticals space, particularly when it comes to scarce-skill positions. Homecoming Revolution’s sourcing of digital skills across the sectors we work in has risen by 30%.”
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