Why Public, Private Sector Must Prioritize Investments In Innovation To Improve Healthcare - Elumelu 
Tony Elumelu

Why Public, Private Sector Must Prioritize Investments In Innovation To Improve Healthcare – Elumelu 

2 weeks ago
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Tony Elumelu, Chairman United Bank for Africa Group and Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), has highlighted the need for concerted efforts by public, private sector players and development partners to prioritise investments in innovation to improve healthcare delivery across Africa.

Such innovation he said could be in the form of health research, health technology/ IT, among others.

Mr Elumelu, who made the call during his remarks at the Health Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Monday, said his Foundation is geared towards democratising access to healthcare in Africa through various initiatives.

While emphasising the need for public sector stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and development partners to come up with initiatives that would have a multiplier effect in terms of increasing healthcare delivery outcomes, he revealed that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has funded not less than 700 healthcare entrepreneurs, with a gender distribution ratio of 49% male to 51% female who have gone to help their communities and even their countries in advancing health care delivery in Africa.

Elumelu mentioned some of the beneficiaries of the TEF empowerment in healthcare who have set up firms that use technologies to increase access to healthcare in different parts of Africa.

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According to him, one of the beneficiaries, Ritalee Monde, is providing affordable medical oxygen in Zimbabwe through her company Leemed Supplies. “She is making medical oxygen accessible at one-third of the market price, even providing it for free to those unable to afford it,” Elumelu told the gathering.

“With her aspirations to establish a medical oxygen production plant, Monde hopes to meet the needs of all 212 hospitals and 1,684 clinics in Zimbabwe while generating more employment opportunities,” he added.

Others are also operating in the areas of paediatric care, and other forms of healthcare.

The billionaire investor and entrepreneur further stressed that such interventions in healthcare in low-income countries is not just by only early-stage entrepreneurs and companies but big pharma firms have a critical role to play.

While calling for a review of the current patent system to ensure a sustainable health future for all, Elumelu also highlighted the need for incentives to big pharma companies investing in Research and Development (R&D) and manufacturing facilities in developing countries.

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“There also needs to be incentives for big pharma to partner on R&D for diseases from lower income countries.

“Incentives for investing in R&D and manufacturing facilities for big pharma in developing countries is also important — so leveraging the global trade system is also an important element of global health equality,” he stated.

Beyond what pharma companies can do, he further said the same steps should be taken to open up access to medical devices research and manufacturing, and health care business model innovation, among others.

Why Public, Private Sector Must Prioritize Investments In Innovation To Improve Healthcare - Elumelu 

Impact of Power Supply on Healthcare Delivery 

The Tony Elumelu Foundation Chairman expressed concerns that many healthcare facilities in Africa do not have reliable power supply, noting that “without power, the health outcomes will be low.”

“During the COVID pandemic, this was a major problem as isolation wards had no power, it was also a challenge to store vaccines sent to the continent,” he added.

While emphasising that all stakeholders across sectors must work innovatively to improve power supply, Elumelu called on energy sector players including renewable energy, thermal and hydro energy sectors to step in and “address this massive energy deficiency in Africa to realize health outcomes in Africa.”

Climate and Healthcare Delivery 

Mr Elumelu noted that investment in renewable energy has positive impact on healthcare because it mitigates climate change effects.

He said while there is climate financing for renewable energy projects, as well as climate change adaptation and resilience projects, there is also a need for creating climate funding for healthcare delivery. This according to him is because there are diseases currently in existence that came as result of climate change impacts on the environment.

“As healthcare issues are becoming more severe due to climate change, how can climate funds be accessed to address health care as well?” he asked.

“With private sector innovation, start-up funding from foundations and financial institutions, health care policies from national and global health systems, investments from all as well as cross sector collaboration, we can definitely move humanity forward,” he asserted.

While concluding his remarks, Elumelu pointed out that there is imbalance in healthcare outcomes between rich and poor countries and called for health equity, stressing that improving the quality of healthcare in the world’s poorest countries, can have an impact on the richest countries because the world is now interconnected and climate change is making the transmission of diseases happen faster.

“COVID started in China and quickly spread to all parts of the world.

“The lesson here is that we should be interested in global health equity and not just national heath because poor health outcomes affect all everywhere,” he added.


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