A private sector health alliance is putting together strategies to drive innovation in healthcare in Nigeria.The group notes that the large number of investments made in Nigeria’s health sector in the last ten years has had little impact in achieving the desired results of improved health outcomes because of poor capacity and support system for innovators.
The lack of an adequate support system for healthcare innovators has been one of the constraints to achieving scale.
“A number of innovations have not made valuable or sustainable impact in the health sector due to the lack of enabling systems or programs. This has buttressed the need for bold and innovative approaches to identify and support new and existing health programs” says the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN).
It is the need to spur, identify and support innovations in health that PHN decided to launch the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace (NHIM). Since its launch, NHIM has emerged as a critical convergence platform for key actors in Nigeria’s healthcare innovation ecosystem, spurring broad scale innovations in health; ranging from process, technology to new markets and more across the healthcare value chain, supporting social entrepreneurship, and connecting actors in the innovation ecosystem with the intent to leapfrog constrains and accelerate improvement in outcomes.
Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, CEO, PHN revealed that in 2015, PHN through the innovation marketplace, conducted the first ever in country Health Innovation Challenge (HIC), to identify, reward and support promising innovations addressing key challenges in the health sector, specifically focusing on saving the lives of mothers and children in Nigeria.
“The team identified over 300 applications in its initial assessment stage of which 42 were selected to go through a design thinking and business development boot camp to strengthen the innovators’ capabilities. 11 innovations were selected as finalists of which 5 emerged as winners receiving grants (ranging from $20,000 – $100,000). In a bid to address the present need for support systems for innovators in healthcare to operate successfully with the country’s unique sector, NHIM designed the Health Innovation Development and Accelerator Program (HiDAP).
“The goal of the HiDAP is to equip the first cohort of graduates from the program, that is winners and finalists from the concluded 2015 HIC, with the skills to achieve market readiness and scale to reach more lives and communities. Through the 12-month bespoke program, innovators completed leadership, business skills and essential knowledge modules, and received wealth of knowledge from several private sector partners and mentors including Dangote Group, Etisalat, GlaxoSmithKline, GE, Lagos Business School to succeed and contribute to economic growth,” Muntaqa explained.
Jim Ovia, co-chair, PHN and Chairman, Zenith Bank Plc, disclosed that there is a continuous need for disruptive innovative ideas that can improve the health system in Nigeria hence there is a call on private sector organizations to join and align with the NHIM work to uncover, mentor, and invest in innovators to tackle critical health sector challenges.
Ovia noted that some progress has been recorded and current rates show a reduction in maternal and child mortality, adding, in order to see considerable improvement in the health sector; there was the need to rethink the way its challenges are addressed.
“The vibrant and fast growing private corporate sector in Nigeria with its business techniques, innovative approaches, influence, resources, capabilities and advocacy platforms can be greatly beneficial to the health system if harnessed strategically and aligned to government’s priorities. Initially, I doubted that one million lives are lost due to preventable diseases, but I thank the innovators that came up with the idea and we will continue to make sure that more lives are saved. The idea is to disrupt the old ways of doing things with new, accessible and affordable methods. Together, we can improve the country’s healthcare system as we innovate to save lives. ”Ovia said