• Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Funding the future; How business leaders can transform African healthcare

By Ota Akhigbe

Across Africa, the promise of a healthy and prosperous future is at risk. The main threat is the long-standing lack of sufficient funding for healthcare systems. Despite Africa’s incredible ability to find solutions with limited resources, this funding gap means millions cannot get basic healthcare, which hurts not only people’s health but also economic growth.

But giving up is not an option. Business leaders and professionals have a very important role to play. As someone who has spent years working in the complex situations that affect African healthcare, leading partnerships that raised significant funding for infrastructure projects and vital health initiatives, I believe there’s a way forward: a way filled with new ideas for financing healthcare.

Q: “Think about leveraging the expertise of private sector institutions alongside government initiatives to streamline procurement processes.”

Moving beyond traditional donors

While traditional donors are still important, we need to find new ways to raise money. Crowdfunding platforms empower Africans to directly invest in their own healthcare infrastructure. Imagine a platform where the diaspora and concerned citizens can contribute directly to a specific project, like a new maternity ward for a primary healthcare centre (PHC) in their village. According to a project campaign on GlobalGiving, a nonprofit that connects donors with grassroots projects worldwide, the Anambra State Association of Women in the USA (ASA Women USA) is raising funds to provide standard healthcare services and health insurance coverage for over 100 indigent women in Anambra State, Nigeria. This project not only addresses immediate needs but also empowers women to access preventive care, potentially reducing the future burden on the healthcare system.

A force for Good

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) hold immense potential. The Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) is a prime example, demonstrating how PPPs can unlock significant resources by combining the public sector’s reach with the private sector’s efficiency. Think about leveraging the expertise of private sector institutions alongside government initiatives to streamline procurement processes. This ensures better value for money and maximises the impact of every dollar spent.

Impact investing

Impact investing offers a chance to do well while doing good. We can attract investors seeking not only financial returns but also measurable social change. This can be achieved by creating investment opportunities focused on healthcare infrastructure development. A 2020 report by the Global Impact Investing Network reinforces this potential. The report highlights that a large portion of impact investments are directed towards emerging markets, with Sub-Saharan Africa attracting significant capital. This trend indicates growing investor interest in opportunities that address social and environmental challenges in developing regions.

Digital health solutions

Technology offers a transformative approach. Telemedicine platforms can connect patients in remote areas with specialists in urban centres. Mobile health apps can provide crucial health information and empower patients to manage their own well-being. Initiatives like Rwanda’s Babyl health kiosks are paving the way. These kiosks, installed in areas with limited internet access, provide basic health screenings and consultations through a combination of telemedicine and AI technology. Patients can interact with a virtual nurse for basic health checks, receive referrals to specialists, and access educational materials on preventative care. This programme demonstrates how digital health solutions can be adapted to address limited internet connectivity while still offering valuable healthcare services.

The road ahead

Implementing these solutions requires strong leadership and a strategic vision. We need leaders who can handle the challenges of healthcare, work with different groups, and communicate clearly to get everyone on board. Leaders like the ones I’ve had the privilege to collaborate with—leaders who understand that investing in healthcare is not merely social responsibility; it is an investment in Africa’s future. A healthy and productive population is important for economic growth.

Taking action

This article serves as a call to action for business leaders across Africa to address healthcare financing challenges. I have provided a roadmap for getting involved:

First, explore crowdfunding platforms or even partner with other businesses to create a regional platform specifically focused on local healthcare needs. This can help raise capital from a wider pool of contributors.

Secondly, leverage public-private partnerships (PPPs) by identifying public-sector partners. See where your private sector expertise can best complement existing healthcare initiatives; this collaborative approach can maximise impact.

Third, embrace impact investing by researching local and international impact investors interested in the healthcare sector. They can provide funding while seeking positive social returns alongside financial ones.

Finally, unlock the power of digital health. See what telemedicine and mobile health options already exist in your area and find any missing pieces. Consider developing new digital health solutions to address these unmet needs and improve access to care. Business leaders can make a big difference in improving Africa’s healthcare by following these steps.

We can bridge the funding gap and create a future where healthcare is not a privilege but a right by embracing these innovative financing solutions for every African citizen.

About the Author – Ota Akhigbe is a results-oriented leader with over 15 years of experience driving impactful change across Africa. Recognized as a Top 60 African Woman in Development, she is passionate about building a healthier future for the continent.

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