- Positive shifts are underway towards sustainable, resilient health systems across the African continent.
- Investments in the healthcare industry generate economic value.
- With coordinated planning and effective preparedness, countries can become more resilient and better respond to health crises.
Africa’s push for public health autonomy is gaining momentum. With the creation of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the African Medicines Agency and the proposed Africa Pandemic Preparedness and Response Authority, governments across the continent are coming together to reduce Africa’s health security burden on other countries. dependency.
African countries rely on imports for more than 70 percent of their medicines, vaccines and other health products. But despite being a net importer of medical products, the African continent has been somewhat successful in containing disease outbreaks.
For example, in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries took immediate steps to contain the virus. These early, collaborative, and sustained efforts have worked. According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization, fewer than 300,000 Africans have died from COVID-19, compared with earlier forecasts of millions.
Much of this success stems from Africa’s past experience with Ebola. Lessons learned from the 2014 outbreak in Nigeria stopped the spread of the disease in subsequent outbreaks, most recently in Uganda.
Looking ahead, African governments need to focus on strengthening their public health institutions to support rapid and effective responses to disease threats and outbreaks. Governments can leverage public/private partnerships to create strong health systems based on data-driven interventions.
We asked four healthcare professionals who have traveled across Africa to share their vision for the future, highlighting the steps governments need to take in partnership with the private sector to take charge of Africa’s health agenda and overcome its risks of health poverty.
The World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Health and Healthcare platform works with governments and businesses to identify and scale up solutions for more resilient, efficient and equitable healthcare systems.
- The Forum actively supports global vaccine delivery, contributing to COVAX delivering more than 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine and launching the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), which has helped save more than 13 million lives in 20 years.
- Through the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative, the forum is helping to accelerate the discovery, testing and implementation of Alzheimer’s interventions.
- The forum worked with Deloitte to develop a toolkit to support lawmakers in developing successful mental health technology policy.
- Through its COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its partners are delivering solutions to the global COVID-19 pandemic, launching more than 40 initiatives to protect lives and livelihoods and keep workers healthy.
- The forum’s Global Healthcare Value Alliance is working to create a more sustainable and equitable healthcare industry, launching its first Value-Based Healthcare Innovation Center to eliminate ineffective spending on global health.
- The UHC2030 Private Sector Constituency, hosted by the Forum, released a statement highlighting the role the private sector can play in achieving universal health coverage.
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“Making the world healthier is a collective effort”
Angela Wasunna, Vice President, Global Policy, Emerging Markets, Pfizer
Communities are the most important stakeholders in improving public health. No one is better suited to meet the needs of African communities and lead their health agendas than those who live in these communities. At Pfizer, we’re proud to support and partner with African and global leaders working to improve access, outcomes and innovation.
Pfizer did exactly that when we joined the leadership of Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Uganda to launch the Protocol for a Healthier World in May 2022. The agreement aims to address issues that limit or prevent these medicines from reaching patients in need by enabling 1.2 billion people to access our healthcare innovations, medicines and vaccines, and working with government and multisectoral leaders to create scalable solutions system-level obstacles.
We’ve made progress in the agreement countries since launch, but I’ll use Rwanda as an example. We have delivered more than 1,500 courses on medicines and vaccines to the country and worked with the government to train health workers to administer them. In December, we proudly deployed our first global health team to Rwanda, providing on-the-ground technical assistance to the Ministry of Health on supply chain optimization.
Whether addressing today’s health needs or preparing for tomorrow, making the world healthier is a collective effort. That is why it is critical that private sector organisations, NGOs, multilaterals and others work with African leaders to achieve health equity.
“Public-private partnerships are critical to driving investment in high-quality healthcare”
Lutz Hegemann, President, Global Health and Sustainability, Novartis
The increased autonomy of the Africa CDC, combined with the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), represents a positive shift toward building sustainable, resilient health systems across the continent. Facing the challenge, partnership and collaboration are critical to ensure patient-centred policies and approaches are adopted to support the widest possible access to medicines. Novartis supports regional and national capacity building by providing time, expertise and financial support as a catalyst for sustainable development.
Access to quality care and medicines is a major barrier for people living in poverty. Public-private partnerships are critical to driving investment in the high-quality healthcare, medicines, services and innovations needed to build resilient and equitable health systems.
The African Medical Supplies Platform is an encouraging example of the potential to facilitate greater economies of scale, streamline logistics and reduce markups across the distribution chain – inevitably lowering costs for healthcare systems and expanding access to patients.
New voluntary licensing mechanisms should be explored for the treatment of noncommunicable diseases, which are increasingly prevalent across the continent, such as the Novartis and Medicines Patent Pool partnership (as part of the Access to Oncology Medicines Alliance) to increase access to drugs for the treatment of chronic myeloid Nilotinib in Leukemia – the first cancer drug deal of its kind.
“Investments in healthcare can have a significant positive impact on a country’s economy”
IQVIA General Manager Alexandre de Carvalho
The health industry can accelerate the deployment of health information systems, health data management and analytics as key drivers for health system strengthening. Pioneering organizations are paving the way for patient-centred ‘inclusive business’ solutions designed to cover the unmet needs of vulnerable populations across the patient journey from prevention to treatment adherence in low- and middle-income countries.
This trend has been accelerated to a large extent recently by the advent of connectivity and digital solutions even in remote environments.
While only a few have achieved sustainability and scale, their innovations have shown great promise and potential, for example, facilitating rural patients through efficient/digitalized operating rooms and telemedicine, and the number of surgeries performed in Indian multi-specialty hospitals is Indians are three to four times their American counterparts.
Businesses and development funds are collaborating and providing financial and technical support to these pioneers to accelerate their growth. The healthcare industry, donors and DFIs can learn from these pioneers and support the scaling up of the most relevant innovations in Africa.
The health industry can also accelerate the deployment of health information systems, health data management and analytics as key drivers for strengthening health systems. Together with donors and continental/regional institutions, national/pan-African digital health programs can be used to exploit significant economies of scale.
Investments in the healthcare industry generate economic value. By developing human capital, countries can increase the productivity of their citizens and thus contribute positively to economic growth. Ultimately, the implementation of universal healthcare is the cornerstone of any healthcare system and a boon for national growth and development.
“Countries can become more resilient through coordinated planning and effective preparedness”
Priya Basu, Executive Director, Epidemic Fund Secretariat
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a range of structural inequalities along social, economic, political and geographic lines. It highlighted the lack of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR) capacity, especially in low-income countries, most of which are in Africa, and the urgent need to strengthen investment in PPR.Every dollar we invest now Strengthening PPR will save lives and reduce the world’s financial cost in the years to come.
To institutionalize response capacity, the World Bank, in partnership with founding donors, the World Health Organization, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders, established the Pandemic Fund: an innovative addition to the Global Health Financing Authority. It represents the first multilateral funding mechanism of its kind, committed to financing critical investments to sustainably strengthen health systems and PPR capacities at country, regional and global levels, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.
At the national level, key needs include building capacity for disease surveillance; laboratories; public health workforce capacity; emergency communications, coordination and management; and community engagement.Support for regional and global PPR capacity building will cut across multiple areas, including data sharing, regulatory coordination, regional public health workforce capacity, and the ability to coordinate the development, procurement, distribution and deployment of vaccines and other countermeasures and essential medical supplies
Although still in its infancy, the pandemic fund has both potential and promise. With $1.6 billion in seed funding from 25 donor governments and philanthropies, the fund aims to work through existing institutions involved in PPR financing, complement their financing, and leverage their comparative advantages. It seeks to facilitate external financing and incentivize countries to prioritize the PPR and scale up their own efforts.
The Pandemic Fund will soon launch its first call for proposals aimed at supporting three focus areas: surveillance, national laboratory systems and human resources for health. In the spirit of encouraging countries to chart their own health paths, the Fund takes an inclusive and country-driven approach.
The Pandemic Fund exists as a reminder that through coordinated planning and effective preparedness, countries can become more resilient and better equipped to respond to the next outbreak of a pandemic, contributing to a healthier, safer and contribute to a more secure world.