The road to universal healthcare coverage may not seem so long if we celebrate the small victories along the way.
Last month the Anadach Group attended the AHBSIII in Johannesburg, South Africa. The symposium saw the coming together of 350 delegates from 52 countries all with the single goal of achieving UHC in Africa.
The symposium was centred on the prominent theme of “Achieving UHC in Africa: Stronger Together”. Cutting across all components of UHC the various panel discussions sought to tackle the challenges, barriers, sectoral involvement, public-private partnerships and the use of innovative approaches and technologies which could all contribute to achieving the UHC goals.
The symposium commenced with Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa, urging delegates that disease does not discriminate according to income and that UHC should leave no one behind. In a closing remark the Minister stated that keeping healthcare local for heads of state is imperative for UHC as he said “The day I will celebrate will be the day that African heads of state can seek healthcare in their own countries.”
This certainly is a lofty goal that should be lauded, but over the next 2 days of the symposium I quickly came to the realisation that the road to UHC is a journey that may not seem so long if we celebrate the small victories along the way.
By the end of the first session I was pretty certain that the delegation was prepared to celebrate any small victory as the panellists had just painted a rather grim outlook for the future of UHC. Citing a lack of a common understanding of UHC, lack of clarity within the private sector, to many uncoordinated dialogue platforms and the need for accountability, the process to UHC is certainly not straightforward.
Despite the first session of the symposium stating some harsh truths and realities which lie in the way of achieving UHC for Africa, the remainder of the event was rife with success stories that should be celebrated for what they are…small victories on the way to achieving UHC.
We often get carried away by the prospective effect that artificial intelligence will have on healthcare throughout Africa in the near future, but the symposium shed light on stories of healthcare innovations that are having measurable impact on healthcare outcomes with technologies as simple at the “dated” SMS.
Fanie Hendriksz, managing director or Right ePharmacy, shared the success they have achieved with their Pharmacy Dispensing Units over a relevantly short time period. This ATM-like dispensing unit has drastically reduced collection times for users of chronic medications as well as timeously reminding them to refill their prescriptions.
Success stories from Dr David Luu and Dr Iqbal Surve, from Equally Health Group and Sekunjalo respectively, showed us that the small victories are numerous as we walk towards UHC in Africa. As a surgeon and healthcare entrepreneur, Dr Luu invented the first ever mobile clinic for cardiovascular disease as 📷he continues to be the pioneer in last mile cardiac care delivery. Dr Iqbal is a physician turned entrepreneur, who built an investment portfolio of 4 billion USD from a mere 20000 USD in seed capital. He believes that technology should be used as a disruptor 📷and great equaliser. Dr Iqbal seeks to help healthcare investment throughout Africa as we strive towards the collective goal of UHC.
The AHBSIII was a fantastic learning experience for me, as it was my first real glimpse into the world of “healthcare business” as a junior consultant for Anadach, but as the majority of symposium delegates have access to healthcare that is beyond adequate, it was a sobering thought that it is our responsibility to use this platform as a catalyst to help those who far too often don’t even have access to the most basic of healthcare resources.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the symposium taught me that as an African continent we are extremely far from achieving UHC. We are faced with an unprecedented amount of barriers that can often seem so daunting. I do however believe that celebrating every small victory along the way is needed to maintain motivation and remain resilient. Celebration should not be reserved for the day that we ultimately achieve UHC, but rather serve as a driver to achieve those “small victories” as frequently as possible.
Please feel free to start a conversation with us if you need any assistance in helping to contribute to the collective goal of achieving UHC for Africa.
Article written by
Anton Kannemeyer, Junior Consultant, Anadach Group