The issues facing primary healthcare in Africa are complicated and multifaceted. Creating sustainable improvement, therefore, means addressing a wide range of challenges collectively. Issues range from the unavailability of qualified healthcare workers and the lack of electricity, water and basic healthcare technology in many areas, to sustainability and a lack of reliable data.
But, healthcare in Africa has come a long way. The current state of health services has come from a place where thousands of women would, unfortunately, die due to pregnancy related complications as they walked kilometres to the nearest facility available. The same case would apply to the thousands of children who would also die from the unfortunate case of their parents not knowing how to care for their kids at their early ages. We are however moving to a new age where mothers and their children can be able to access healthcare even in remote areas and the intricate knowledge of establishing new ways of delivering care are building stronger and more resilient communities all over the country.
With this, Royal Philips recently announced its full support for a new Government of Kenya and United Nations (UN) initiative aimed at strengthening primary and community healthcare in East Africa. The leading health technology company is coming on board as the first private sector partner to establish an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Partnership Platform in Kenya for accelerating primary healthcare transformation in support of universal health coverage.
This unique platform will bring together executive leadership from government, development partners, private sector organizations and civil society to investigate opportunities for accelerating universal access to primary healthcare services in Kenya. Special focus will be given to addressing gaps in human resources, healthcare financing, essential medicines, medical supplies, health information, and the use of technology.
Hon. Dr. Cleopa Mailu, Cabinet Secretary for Health said that the Government of Kenya is committed to accelerating progress towards universal health coverage. He said that they are open to fostering partnerships that are dynamic and mutually beneficial and they foresee great potential in the SDG partnership platform.
Philips will immediately provide support to the platform to start work on establishing a common fact-base on primary healthcare by assessing current and future healthcare needs, so that platform members can jointly identify, design and implement transformative initiatives in pursuit of the platform’s ambitions. Philips will leverage its in-depth clinical insights, global innovation capabilities, and its experience to sustainably deliver improved healthcare through partnership with national and county level stakeholders. In addition and to ensure continuity, Philips has also committed support for two years to the establishment of the SDG Healthcare Platform Secretariat.
Adding on to this, Mr. Roelof Assies, CEO, Philips East Africa said that Philips is passionate about healthcare, because more than in any other sector, it has a direct and dramatic positive impact on the quality of people’s lives. As a key stakeholder in this sector, the company is determined to align agendas and incentives that eliminate barriers to healthcare access. He added and said that no single business, institution or government organization can solve this pressing issue on its own; the SDG Partnership Platform underpins their collective responsibility to ensure that communities all have access to high quality affordable primary healthcare.
Involvement in Africa’s primary healthcare sector is not new to Philips which happens to be the leading health technology company.
In June 2014, in partnership with the local government of Kiambu County, Kenya, Philips inaugurated the first Community Life Center (CLC) in Africa. This is an open platform aimed at strengthening primary and community healthcare, and turned the local health facility into a community hub, where technology is bundled with an integrated service package and community empowerment interventions. This includes basic infrastructure and healthcare technology improvements, such as solar power and LED lighting, training, maintenance and sustainability, connectivity, reporting, monitoring, referral procedures, medical backpacks for community health workers, patient and workflow optimization and project management.
Within eighteen months of its opening (from June 2014 – December 2015), the total number of outpatients visiting the center in Kiambu per month increased from 900 to 4080; the number of children being treated quadrupled; the number of first antenatal care patients grew fifteen-fold, and the number of fourth visit antenatal care patients each month grew sixteen-fold.
The second CLC was inaugurated in Tadu village in the Democratic Republic of Congo in November 2016, and work is currently underway on a CLC in Mandera County in North-Eastern Kenya.
This move is in line with strengthening local healthcare systems is central to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 where Philips has been dedicated to advancing primary healthcare in Africa for many years, with a strong focus on Mother and Child Care.
The enormous success of the CLC pilot in Kenya is compelling evidence that such platforms, implemented in collaboration with governmental and private partners, can be replicated throughout Africa wherever deprived communities need a helping hand. This will be accelerated by the partnerships between Philips, the Government of Kenya and the United Nations to continue the process of co-creating new solutions, new business models, and meaningful partnerships to provide innovations that make an impact.
This SDG Partnership Platform will enable the dialogue and decision making required to jointly define new pathways to ensure that the provision of healthcare in the SDGs reaches everyone, everywhere.