Key outcome of three-year partnership will be setting up task forces to build upon four areas of priority resulting in increased partnerships, PPP projects, technology transfer and investments
NATHEALTH-Healthcare Federation of India and Africa Healthcare Federation (AHF) signed a path-breaking Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to increase healthcare collaboration between the two federations with potential to result in increased investment and business in healthcare between India and Africa.
The MoU identifies specific areas of partnership such as sustainable and medical value travel, infrastructure development for hospitals and diagnostics, training and research, skill transfer and artificial intelligence and manufacturing. The main objective of this agreement is to find solutions to the barriers of access to quality healthcare, building essential infrastructure for patients, harness technology, address the shortage of skilled workforce and medical professionals and ways to improve patient outcomes.
The Summit theme, “Fostering South-South Collaboration between the Healthcare Federations of India and Africa to achieve Universal Health Coverage” sends out an important message that collaboration is central to realising the goal of UHC and it is important that key stakeholders work together to build bridges across sectors and drive new initiatives to fix infrastructural gaps, improve health access and outcomes. As one of the first steps following the signing of the agreement, both federations will establish task forces over the next year that will work closely to further this partnership. Both AHF and NATHEALTH will bring together industry support behind this to make national programs successful while opening the doors for universal healthcare and scale-up of health care accessibility.
Expressing her happiness, Dr. Preetha Reddy, President – NATHEALTH and Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals, said, “The partnership between NATHEALTH – Healthcare Federation of India and Africa Health Federation is a significant step being taken, to create an all-new trajectory in building robust healthcare ecosystems of the future. Undoubtedly, the future of healthcare will be shaped by the actions and decisions that we take today and the path to it, will require us to rise above conventional silos and surge ahead with the power of collaboration, partnerships and innovation. Path breaking cross-country platforms such as this partnership, they will enable exchange of skills, technologies, research, medical education, bridge gaps in our health systems and take us closer to our shared goal of universal health coverage.”
Dr. Amit Thakker, President – AHF and Executive Chairman, Africa Health Business said, “These extraordinary times united healthcare professionals across the globe and have paved the way for federations across countries to come together and chart a way forward to address some of the long-standing structural gaps. It has also opened doors for collaborative efforts to create mechanisms through which public-private partnership models could be developed seamlessly on a sustainable basis. Effective partnerships are a necessary part of creating successful healthcare systems and allow each player to carry out what they do best while also benefiting from what others do best. It provides the opportunity for win-win situations that make an impact that is greater than the sum of their parts.”
Dr Harsh Mahajan, Senior Vice President, NATHEALTH and Founder & Chief Radiologist, Mahajan Imaging and Clare Omatseye, Vice President, AHF & President, West Africa Private Healthcare Federation who also spoke at the summit, emphasised that the key outcome of this three-year partnership will be setting up task forces to build upon four areas of priority resulting in increased partnerships, PPP projects, technology transfer and investments.
Among the key dignitaries who addressed the audience were – Dr. Harsh Vardhan ji, Hon’ble Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology, Earth Sciences, Government of India & Chairman, WHO Executive Board, H.E. Amira Elfadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, Africa Union Commission; V. Muraleedharan, Hon Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India; Hon Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; H.E. (His Excellency) Alem Tsehaye Woldemariam, The Dean of African Missions in India, a host of senior Government healthcare officials from India and the African continent, healthcare industry leaders and heads of global multilateral agencies.
In partnership with NATHEALTH, PwC India, launched its report titled, ‘Unlocking the potential of India-Africa collaboration for healthcare innovation’ at the event. The report highlights the importance of innovative healthcare approaches that can transform the traditional healthcare systems by ensuring quality healthcare, one that is accessible and affordable for all. The report also puts forth how developing regions like India and Africa can join forces to address the existing structural gaps in healthcare and develop a robust, efficient and sustainable healthcare delivery model to provide universal health coverage to its people. The report suggests that Governments, development partners, private sector organisations, start-ups and non-governmental institutions should work together to harness the potential of healthcare innovation. It also identifies potential areas for India-Africa collaboration in the health sector, which will enable the sector to emerge stronger and become future-ready.
The following four areas have been identified as the key thematic areas under the MoU based on extensive discussions and technical inputs from the summit knowledge partners PwC India and IPE Global:
- Sustainable Medical Value Travel (MVT): Under this, the focus will be to bring transparency in referral mechanism/fees and the need of travel for treatment, for smooth VISA processing and Immigration. Both the parties will also focus on easy availability of information on health facilities including quality and cost differentials, standardised rating mechanism, etc. and existing accreditations and also look at establishing grievance redressal mechanisms. Establishing partnerships for diagnostic tests, emergency air evacuations will also be a priority.
- Skill Transfer and Training: NATHEALTH and AHF will map skill transfer and training requirements to identify the key gaps that needs attention and look at the potential for e-learning and use of other technologies (simulation, augmented virtual reality, etc.) to bring down the costs. They will also work towards establishing twinning programmes between Indian and African institutions and improve scope and potential for building capacity of local health care companies and financial intermediaries.
- Infrastructure Development for Hospitals and Diagnostics: for this, the two federations will identify gap areas by gauging industry interest on both ends for investments and categorise the ways and policy interventions needed to safeguard investor interests and highlight the alternate financing mechanisms available like PE/VC funds, viability gap funding, impact investments, etc. Under the agreement, the task force will also look at ways to improve the business environment by working with governments to expand the public-private partnerships
- Manufacturing, Research and Artificial Intelligence: The key focus areas under this include addressing the need for harmonisation of regulatory requirements and building expertise for pharmaceutical manufacturing in GMP. Ways to reduce market fragmentation to achieve economies of scale and discuss how to create regional economic communities thereby creating regional markets. The focus will also be on Increasing investment into R&D in Africa through collaborative research, twinning programmes that include galenic development, Centre of API manufacturing, etc. Identifying areas with potential to leapfrog with use of AI and machine learning will also be explored through initiative pilot partnerships.
The task force will consist of seven to nine members and will be jointly led by representatives from AHF and NATHEALTH. The members will include Industry partners, Development partners, Government representatives, Key experts in their individual capacity or as part of relevant institutions and Knowledge partners. Within the first quarter, each task force will be expected to present an Action Plan on their area detailing out the objectives and scope of thematic area, key outcomes expected at end of 1 year, policy areas to be covered and key stakeholders to be engaged.
A partnership between India and Africa underlines a mutual interest in improving access and quality of healthcare to achieve the UHC in both the countries. India has experience, that Africa can learn from, and Africa has much to contribute to the Indian health sector. The private sectors in both continents are becoming organised, unified and an integrated partnership will provide opportunities to improve quality of care and promote accessibility and affordability of healthcare.