Nigeria’s healthcare sector has received billions in grants; however the inadequacy of current health programs and stagnated results necessitates bold and disruptive innovative approaches to transform the sector.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) Dr. Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, made the remark during a presentation at the just concluded Nigeria Innovation Summit (NIS) in Lagos, adding that the epidemiological transition and population growth projected in the country exacerbate the need for scalability of effective innovative approaches within the health sector.
He said that the state of health was characterised by poor outcomes, poor quality and a lack of protection from financial risk which attracted the interest of concerned Nigeria who set up PHN to mobilizes private sector to complement government’s efforts in accelerating improvement in health outcomes by focusing on innovation, impact investments, advocacy and public-private partnerships.
Interventions by PHN, Dr. Umar-Sadiq said have saved at least one million lives of women and children in Nigeria.
“The sector requires innovations that address socio-economic challenges, such as poverty and health, also drive economic growth. In the 70s and 80s, Indonesia had a dependency ratio of about 86.84. Through several interventions focused on reducing the total fertility rate in the country, the dependency ratio reduced to 51.31 in 2010. It is expected that between 1980 and 2020, Indonesia’s dependency ratio will have reduced by 41%. Smaller dependency ratios increases the potential for economic growth (on average a 1 point reduction contributes 0.115% to economic growth). This is due to the fact that there is a higher percentage of the population in the workforce.
“Nigeria started out with a similar dependency ratio as Indonesia in the 1980s. However, our dependency ratio is projected to decrease by only 3% by 2020. This is because we have high infant and child mortality (69/1000 and 128/1000 respectively) and a high total fertility rate (6 children per woman). This limits the opportunity for economic growth. Health innovations centered around infant and child mortality as well as family planning could help Nigeria achieve the same results as Indonesia,” he said.
“Innovations from around the world have addressed similar health system challenges, leading to drastic improvement in quality, efficiency, accessibility and affordability of care.
Dr. Umar-Sadiq while charging startups present at the Summit to plug into the opportunities in the sector, added that, in recent times, a number of African countries have ridden a wave of locally appropriate innovations to accelerate progress in the health related MDGs.
“There has been little traction in harnessing these needed bold innovations in health for the Nigerian health market due to several constraints: visibility, capacity, fragmentation and lack of data.
He made case for startups in the healthcare system, stating that they require visibility; “visibility increases awareness of promising new innovations and approaches to address health challenges. Investors have little visibility on compelling viable health innovations.
“Poor capacity and support system for health innovators – they lack access to capital, business and financial management and basic business startup support / incubation needed to take ideas through to market. Investors and health innovators lack the convergence platforms that create market and technical linkages as well as COPs and scalable platforms for sustainable impact and limited evidence based knowledge products and data to facilitates the development and dissemination of focused insights and new evidence about innovations and their strategies to scale and replicate”.
He said that PHN’s theory of change requires rethinking the way health sector partnerships and innovations are curated for impact. The Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) led by business leaders in Nigeria including Alhaji Aliko Dangote therefore embraces the need to focus on mobilizing the private sector to advance health outcomes through innovation and partnerships.
The Private Sector Health Alliance led a coalition of partners to create the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace (NHIM) focuses on four inter-related core objectives: Identify promising innovations; incubate and create linkages that will enable scale; convergence platform around health innovation and invest for impact in selected opportunities.
NHIM covers a plethora of components including a health innovaton hub, an accelerator program and healthcare challenges and has since curated over 42 innovations through the business development boot camp representing four archetypes of healthcare innovations.
The Nigeria Innovation Summit, a brainchild of Emerging Media, also attracted participants delegates from the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria; Anambra State Government; Kaduna State; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment; UNIDO/NIRP; Oxford Business Group; British High Commission; University of Lagos; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Caleb University; Crescent University; Nasarawa State University; Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, amongst others.