Is Kenya the new entry point for the big pharma agenda?


Kenya is no doubt the cradle of technological innovation in Africa and one of the most innovative countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

As such, Boehringer Ingelheim, is targeting Nairobi with its Making More Health (MMH) Accelerator to enhance start-up business models and identify opportunities for strategic collaboration to improve human and animal health.

In August, the German company brought together leaders from around the globe for “an exchange to promote co-creation”.

Promising start-ups from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria

For the event, social entrepreneurs from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria participated as did the non-profit organization Ashoka.

The social entrepreneurs shared new and innovative ideas for improving access to animal and human healthcare for underserved populations in Africa.

Coming at an interesting time when ideas and implementation are taking a more African approach, the interest by the big pharma in Africa could be a new turning point for the continent. Is it the new gold rush?

Among the key topics of discussion during the workshop were “business strategies and business critical issues of the social entrepreneurs”.

The event also discussed Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and raising awareness on screening as well as delivering animal health services on the last-mile.

“As a next step, the social ventures will now proceed to a pilot phase over the next six months where they will develop a minimum viable product specific to the market need,” says a statement from Boehringer Ingelheim.

The programme will culminate in the social entrepreneurs pitching at Boehringer Ingelheim’s headquarters in Germany for the scale up of the funding.

Eduardo Lioy, Director Corporate Strategy Development at Boehringer Ingelheim said, “We have to challenge the status quo and think differently in order to address the barriers to healthcare in sub Saharan Africa.”

He added that the non-traditional partnerships like the co-creation approach allow them to realise their goals since they create spaces that “spur innovation and provide contextualised solutions to patients”.

Through the MMH initiative, Boehringer Ingelheim says that it aims to establish an ecosystem of financially sustainable social ventures focused on facilitating unmet medical needs in the three countries of Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana.

Latest trends in Universal Health Coverage

Kenya’s health sector is valued at Ksh220 billion (USD 2.2 billion) and contributes about 2 per cent to the country’s GDP. This sector is expected to grow at a faster rate than the overall economy.

The East African economic hub is set to host the 2019 Medic East Africa conference that will focus on the provision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the region.

This conference is expected to bring together East Africa’s healthcare and medical laboratory industry players.

With participants from 25 countries, the conference will create an opportunity for industry players in the healthcare sector to discuss the latest trends in UHC.

Among the issues to be discussed include progress and financing of universal healthcare policies.

The conference comes just a year after Kenya launched its pilot UHC scheme in the four counties of Kisumu, Isiolo, Machakos and Nyeri.

Due to the high prevalence of communicable and non-communicable diseases in the four counties, the pilot would give a clearer picture of the programme’s success.

The four counties also have a high maternal mortality, high population density and a high incidence of road traffic injuries.

As a result, 91 per cent of residents have enrolled in local health insurance schemes.

Under the sustainable development goal (SDG) 3, the United Nations calls on countries to ensure the achievement of universal health coverage including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Read: Kenya turn to Cuba to achieve Universal Health Coverage, Kenya’s homegrown investors joins Chinese VCs to grow health sector

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