Nigeria gets $18.2m from Japan to boost the health-care system

The Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba announced that Nigeria has obtained a $18.2 million grant from Japan to improve its health sector. During his visit to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), he disclosed this knowledge.

He claimed that his visit was to evaluate the utilization of the N49 billion investment fund allocated by the federal government to 52 federal health institutions in the region, disclosing that the Japanese assistance will take the form of medical equipment and capacity building for medical staff.

According to the Minister, this assistance is made possible by President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 visit to the Japanese Prime Minister.

Mr Clem Agba said, “I just wanted to let you know that the Irrua Specialist Hospital and the UBTH, both in Edo, are among the seven beneficiaries of this grant.

“We also collaborate with USAID, and I signed agreements with them in which they provided us with 200 ventilators, of which I am aware that Irrua Specialist Hospital received three and the UBTH received three from the 200 ventilators that we distributed across the country,” he added.

The Minister stated that one of the COVID-19 revelations was the weakness of the Nigerian health system, which is why the FG graciously approved the N49 billion investment fund for 52 federal medical centers and teaching hospitals across the country.

He clarified that the fund was intended to help develop facilities in the sector in order to maintain the country’s health system’s stability.

Agba stated that the funds were set aside for the construction of molecular laboratories, as well as the provision of a minimum of ten bedded Intensive Care Units (ICU); isolation center appliances and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs); among others, in the 52 health establishments.

“This meant that each of the centers received approximately N950 million to buy the required facilities; as well as PPE for their labs, isolation centers, and ICUs,” he added.

AU, J&J Sign Deal for 400 Million Doses of Covid-19 Vaccines

Johnson & Johnson, an American pharmaceutical company, has announced that it will begin supplying the African Union (AU) with 400 million doses of its single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in the third quarter.

According to a related announcement, all African Union member states will have access to 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot Covid-19 vaccine through the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), which was formed in November 2020.

According to a joint statement released by the African Union, the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), and the Africa Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), an extra 180 million doses may be requested.

Africa CDC Director, Dr. John Nkengasong, said: “The Africa CDC proposed to the African Union that a minimum of 750 million Africans (60 percent) be immunized if Covid-19 is to be contained. This exchange helps Africa to reach approximately half of the goal. The main feature of this vaccine is that it is a single-dose vaccine, making it easy to roll out rapidly and safely, saving lives.”

President of South Africa, AU Champion for the Covid-19 vaccine plan and purchase, and Chairman of AVATT, Cyril Ramaphosa, accepted the landmark deal, which he initiated jointly with the corporation during his term as AU Chairperson.

“This agreement is a big step toward ensuring the health of all Africans. It is also a strong example of African unity and what we can do by collaboration between the public, private, and foreign sectors that prioritize citizens,” Ramaphosa said.

The vast majority of supplies will be manufactured at Aspen Pharma’s massive pharmaceutical processing facility in South Africa.

Afreximbank President Benedict Oramah stated, “We are extremely honored to have been offered the chance by the African Union to promote this significant transaction under the auspices of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task(AVATT) Team in the middle of a very tight Covid-19 vaccine market.”

“We look forward to beginning the implementation of the US$2 billion Vaccine Procurement facility approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors to assist the continent in beginning to rid itself of the pandemic and restore its economy as Financial and Transaction Consultants, Guarantors, Installment Payment Facility Arrangers, and Payment Officers.”

Oramah stated that the money would help intra-African trade and that “we have already begun engagement with our financial partners” to obtain additional funding to support procurement if Africa agrees to purchase the additional 180 million doses.

AU countries were invited to place pre-orders for the vaccines prior to the signing of the deal, and “many countries expressed strong preference for this particular vaccine. The majority of countries have already finished their pre-orders,” reads the statement.

USAID has initiated a new $19m fund to boost healthcare in Nigeria

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has initiated a new $19 million five-year fund to finance programs in Nigeria aimed at enhancing the quality of health worker preparation.

This was revealed in a statement released by USAID in Abuja yesterday, during an event attended by Health Office Director Paul McDermott and other key government health sector officials. It noted that the Health Workforce Management initiative will prepare 100,000 by 2025.

Health Workforce Management will facilitate the establishment of cost-effective, well-trained and empowered health staff in the targeted rural and remote areas of Bauchi, Sokoto, Kebbi and Ebonyi States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

“We invest in health staff because good and skilled human capital for health boost health outcomes and save lives. The operation will help efforts to resolve the current problems faced by health workers in Nigeria,” McDermott said at the virtual ceremony.

Health Staff Management will enhance human capital, boost the governance of health workers and create interventions to improve the retention of health workers. The activity is expected to generate 100,000 additional health professionals over the next five years, capable of responding to existing and potential health needs of the communities of the targeted states,” the statement said.

Health Workforce Management will prepare these primary health care employees to help develop a more capable workforce that can adapt to health demands, increase the delivery and skill balance of front-line workers, and enhance training organizations so they will implement and apply more effective human resource management techniques.

“The plan could not have came at a better time. Addressing health worker maldistribution by generating the required expertise mix of frontline health staff at the primary care level would be more effective. We look forward to meaningful progress and promise to collaborate with and support USAID every step of the way,” Dr. Usman Adamu, Director of Primary Health Care Services Development at the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, said.

Banyan Global will carry out the operation in partnership with Abt Associates, the Institute for Healthcare Development, and Solina Health. It’s part of a $793 million USAID program of activities aimed at integrating health care delivery at the primary level, generating demand for health services, and improving supply chain management at the subnational level.

Healthcare platform Vezeeta plans to invest $25m in the Egyptian market

Vezeeta, a digital healthcare network in the Middle East and Africa, has announced the introduction of its ePharmacy solution (Vezeeta Pharmacy), which helps consumers to order prescription drugs via a smartphone app.

Using the mobile app, users of Vezeeta will upload their e-prescriptions, add their insurance requirements, select cash or cashless payment options before checking out, and arrange same-day home delivery in Cairo and Giza.

Patients may now integrate their pharmacy expertise with medical tele-consultation, as well as 24/7 access to approved pharmacists and service providers. This ensures that they can fulfill their wellbeing needs effortlessly, from start to finish.

“We’re on a wonderful patient ride. By giving our consumers the data to choose from and the best digital resources to be used, Vezeeta continues to inspire its patients in every step of health care,” said Amir Barsoum, Founder & CEO at Vezeeta

In addition to the launch of the big disruptor, Vezeeta, via its CEO, has also revealed plans to pump more than US$25 million into its Egyptian market this year. Both steps are coming as the coronavirus set a record-breaking 2020 for the African ehealth market.

“We’re the first digitally interconnected physicians in our healthcare ecosystem, and now we’re doing the same for pharmacists. Our pharmacists receive outstanding training and compensation to ensure that every customer has a positive experience, every time they log in to the Vezeeta app,” Maha Melhem, Vice President of ePharmacy at Vezeeta, said.

Vezeeta, according to Melhem, adheres to stringent hygiene requirements with its exclusive high-quality packaging, meaning that patients can rely on the organization to provide critical medicines in one hour or less.

The e-solution is a core component of Vezeeta’s robust healthcare offering, which also provides physical and virtual doctor appointments, as well as lab and scan access. Both of these are meant to improve patient accessibility and affordability.

Vezeeta Pharmacy has treated over a million patients in Cairo and Giza to date, with additional cities expected to be added in the immediate future. Vezeeta strives to provide patients with their free medical history on the smartphone app through its in-pharmacy SaaS, e-prescriptions, teleconsultations, and AI-assisted distribution.

Vezeeta is helping more people save time, money, and stress while accessing quality services, optimizing clinical outcomes, and putting patient happiness at the center of its technologies by delivering uninterrupted interactive healthcare experiences to patients from the comfort of their own homes.

Árgentil Capital Partners Invests in Nigeria’s healthcare industry

Árgentil Capital Management Limited, a boutique investment banking company, confirmed its equity investment in Sygen Pharmaceuticals Limited, which, along with other co-investors, was structured through the investment vehicle of the backers, Market Growth Partners.

Àrgentil has engaged in a management team-based transaction with a clear track record of over 155 years of directing and controlling FMCG businesses’ activities in Nigeria and other developing markets.

Companies such as Sygen, which can offer quality, inexpensive medicines to a wide domestic market, continue to have substantial growth opportunities in the healthcare and consumer sectors.

Àrgentil is actively invested in small and medium-sized companies through the Àrgentil Principal Investment Portfolio II (APIP II), which has so far completed five investments.

Investments from APIP II have won award recognition, including the Private Equity Africa 2019 Deal of the Year (Small Cap) award, and many of our investors have had a major positive impact on the existing COVID-19 climate.

Àrgentil is now widening its investment focus to include core West African countries through the US$95m Àrgentil SME Investment Fund (ASIF).

ASIF will invest in core development sectors such as Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Technology and Energy. The initial national priority of ASIF will include Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Àrgentil also makes direct contributions from its balance sheet to fund management teams or to sponsor emerging companies looking to develop networks that can expand over time to adopt key sectors’ development strategies.

Sygen is an indigenous pharmaceutical business that was founded in 2019 to purchase Nigerian German Chemicals’ main operating properties (NGC). NGC remained a well-known brand in Nigeria prior to its takeover, with operations lasting over 50 years.

Sygen manufactures and distributes prescription products under the brand name NGC targeting the segments of Analgesic, Anti-Diabetics, Antifungal, Anti-spasmodic, Cough narcotics and Hematinic medications.

The business also supplies drinks and bottled water. The business runs a warehouse in the state of Ogun, southwestern Nigeria, and eight depots nationwide.

The mission of Sygen is to create a leading pharmaceutical organisation based on the manufacture and delivery of inexpensive, high-quality medicines that are easily available and readily accessible to the economy’s middle and lower-income community.

CDC announces $100m investment in the Egyptian Alfa Medical Group

CDC Group, the UK development finance institution, has announced a $100 million minority equity stake in Alfa Medical Group (AMG) alongside the healthcare investor Africa Network Capital, Simon Rowlands’ family office.

“For 25 years, the Alfa Medical Company has played a crucial role in changing the lives of millions of Egyptians by ensuring access to affordable healthcare. Its labels are known in the medical industry for offering high-quality diagnostics and care using state-of-the-art technology,” said Sherine Shohdy, Coverage Director, CDC, Egypt.

“This investment shows the devotion of CDC to collaborating with leading Egyptian firms, creating much-needed patient capital that can only be offered through our model. With over 20 years of experience investing here in Egypt, this year we remain optimistic in working with more local businesses.”

The investment would allow AMG to enhance its medical services efficiency, expand patient access to medical care and extend its hospital presence, including the new Alfa Medical City. The investment will also promote the expansion of AMG’s laboratory sector into undeserved regions in Egypt in particular, as well as the development of Alfa Scan Radiology Centers.

The transaction would also fund the creation of the Alfa Academy, a training academy for AMG employees and third-party healthcare professionals. The Academy will offer instruction to healthcare practitioners, grow permanent, high-quality talent across the industry and enhance patient care. This investment would help to expand the number of hospital beds offering quality healthcare facilities, complementing the Egyptian Government’s efforts to fulfil its vision for Egypt in 2030.

This investment will lead to SDG 3: Ensure safe lives and well-being for all, build employment as defined in SDG 8.5: Produce complete and sustainable jobs, and have better skills preparation as defined in SDG 4.4: Raise the number of people with suitable skills.

Dr Adel Talaat, Chairman and CEO of Alfa Medical Group, said: “As shareholders of Alfa Medical Company, we are proud to welcome CDC, one of the leading financial institutions for growth finance. For our company, the investment marks a significant milestone and will help us to extend our business and accelerate our progress. It also demonstrates the trust that foreign investors have in the Egyptian economy and health care sector.”

“CDC is delighted to work with Dr. Adel Talaat and his team to continue the country’s growth of the community and increase access to healthcare. This contribution is a core component of Egypt’s CDC plan and we look forward to helping more companies in the healthcare, education and other consumer sectors,” said Leandro Cuccioli, Head of Health and Consumer Businesses, CDC.

Sir Geoffrey Adams, British Ambassador to Egypt, commented “A wonderful example of the strength of the UK-Egypt trade and investment relationship is CDC’s $100 million investment in Alfa Medical Group, CDC’s highest ever equity investment in Egypt. At a time of unparalleled difficulties, the agreement will promote healthcare in Egypt, improving access to medical services across Egypt for those in need.”

Global investors are planning to plug Nigeria’s $82 billion health deficit

In Africa’s largest country, the coronavirus pandemic has sharpened the spotlight on a health-care investment deficit and international investors are attempting to fill the gap.

African health-care assets had started to build concern more widely, long before the pandemic. In November 2019, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation joined with the Investment Fund for Health in Africa-II (IFHA-II) to form a $115 million purchase platform for healthcare provider providers in the east and south of the continent.

After the advent of the pandemic, 100 billion naira ($254.6 million) have been released by the Nigerian government in state credit facilities for healthcare, from pharmaceutical firms and suppliers of drugs to service providers, which has evidently sparked greater demand from private investors. A further 50 billion naira is supplied by the Bank of Business, a Nigerian infrastructure finance agency.

“The construction of world-class healthcare facilities across Africa, but particularly in Nigeria, is a very compelling opportunity,” said Hafeez Giwa, managing partner at HC Capital Properties, which has started to invest in health-care assets in Nigeria.

Another potential was outlined by Tosin Runsewe, CEO of healthcare investment company AfyACare Nigeria: mandatory health benefits for federal workers would decrease insurance premiums and the amount of healthcare costs covered could increase to between 20 percent and 30 percent by 2030.

The Knight Frank study emphasised that, as it is, about 72 percent of household health care spending is out-of-pocket, relative to the sub-Saharan average of 35 percent, and just 5 percent of health care is provided by insurance.

Runsewe said, “The cost of this treatment could be met by a health insurance premium of just around 20,000 Naira ($50) per year, half of the current average cost, if we were able to reach a critical mass of 40 million to 60 million Nigerians covered by healthcare.”

“In private primary health centres, there are a number of ways for investors to provide coverage at an affordable cost.”

Due to both “extreme need” and government policies that have made it easier to grow high-quality assets that provide affordable care, Giwa said HC Capital Properties was investing in Nigeria. He indicated that these prospects are actually being pursued by two forms of investors.

Giwa said, “In the one hand, there are local foreign investors and local pension funds who, in the case of Nigeria, are investors in Naira and have no currency risk concerns.” “On the other hand, companies and institutions are intrigued about the possibility of offering high-quality healthcare to Nigerians with lower and middle incomes.”

He believes the pandemic to have led to a “permanent change in thinking” that would bring more emphasis on better health care at home. According to a recent PwC survey, Nigeria currently loses up to $1 billion per year to outbound health tourism among wealthy Nigerians due to insufficient domestic access.

SME Health Providers In 5 African Countries Get US$30m Funding

A new emergency loan guarantee facility of more than USD 30 million under the Open Doors African Private Healthcare Initiative is projected to support private and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) healthcare providers in five high malaria burden countries in Africa.

The loan will help healthcare providers in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda to continue to provide more than five million Africans critical health services, including malaria treatment.

“As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our clients are under increased strain and see patient visits and sales falling. This partnership allows them to better encourage wellness entrepreneurs in order to continue delivering the necessary resources to keep their families safer,” Kennedy Okong’o, Director East Africa, and Medical Credit Fund stated.

The African Private Healthcare Open Doors Program will help keep doors open for an estimated 1,600 health facilities that provide treatment for malaria and other critical health services.

Nearly 50 percent of all healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa is provided by private sector healthcare providers, including life-saving interventions such as early malaria diagnosis and treatment, ante-natal care, and routine vaccines.

“These critical health needs could overload already overburdened health services if left unaddressed and add to the loss of life during the pandemic. For example, 2020 estimates suggest that mild disturbances in the search for care could result in as many as 100,000 additional malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa,” explained Okong’o.

The Health Financing Alliance, a consortium of leading philanthropists, businessmen, sponsors and technical partners, set up the facility to leverage major private funding to achieve a transformative impact on healthcare in Africa.

“We need innovative funding ways to help policymakers meet their optimistic health targets, with COVID-19 placing immense financial pressure on health budgets across Africa. The Open Doors African Private Healthcare Program, which funds private health services through a combination of grants and return-seeking money, is a leading example. I want to see initiatives like this one extended in the months ahead,” Ray Chambers, WHO Ambassador for Global Strategy and Health Financing and Chair, the MCJ Amelior Foundation said.

Nearly 3 million of the five million patients who may be affected by the loan facility are low-income patients, with nearly 2.4 million women and 1.4 million children at disproportionate risk of malaria and other infectious diseases.

“To safeguard health and well-being, private sector healthcare services are important. Financial funding from the African Private Healthcare Open Doors Initiative will enable them to support the response to COVID-19 and continue to deliver critical health services to keep people and communities safe,” Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President for Health, The Rockefeller Foundation said.

Malaria No More will run the lending facility and the loans will be managed by the Medical Credit Fund (MCF), a non-profit insurance investment fund.

Taiwan signs agreement to boost Somaliland’s healthcare

An agreement to develop maternal and child healthcare in the Horn of Africa nation has been signed by Taiwan and Somaliland.

The Taiwan Technical Mission will give support to Somaliland through the Ministry of Health Development in the agreement signed on Tuesday December 1, 2020, to enhance the healthcare capacity of the country through bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

Taiwan would secure a healthcare development budget in Somaliland from the agreement as part of three cooperation projects in which the two countries will participate.

‘According to the aforementioned Framework Agreement on Technical Cooperation and the fact-finding surveys conducted since last February, Taiwan and Somaliland have reached consensus on the implementation of the following three cooperation projects: the collaborative project with the Ministry of Health on Maternal and Infant Health Improvement; the collaborative project with the Ministry of Agriculture Development of Improving Vegetable and Fruits Production and Quality Improvement Project; and the project collaborating with Ministry of Information and Technology of Enhancing the e-Government Capability in Somaliland,” a statement from the Taiwan embassy in Somaliland capital Hargeisa stated.

In the presence of Ambassador Allen C. Lou, Representative of Taiwan in Somaliland, and Hon, a technical office within the Taiwan embassy for the management of projects was opened. Lebanon Yusuf Osman, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Mohammed Abdi Gereye, Director-General of the Ministry of Health Development, Mr Mars Shiue, Head of the Taiwan Technical Mission and officials of the Hargeisa Group Hospital.

The ceremony was a follow-up to Hon’s signing of the Framework Agreement on Technical Cooperation. Dr. Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROC (Taiwan) and Hon. Yasin Hagi Mohamoud, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Somaliland, 17 August 2020.

The Taiwan Representative Office in Hargeisa convened a similar virtual conference on 16 November 2020 on the subject of the ‘Maternal and Child Health Care Development Project and exchanging experience in the battle against COVID-19.’

“All these efforts reflect the strong will of Taiwan to improve the healthcare capacity of Somaliland through bilateral cooperation between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Taiwan Embassy stated in its statement.

“This ceremony is a symbol of the strong will of Taiwan to work with like-minded partners and natural allies to implement Somaliland’s cooperation projects.”

Kenya Airways Unveils Ultra-modern Pharma Facility

Kenya Airways (KQ) has unveiled a state-of-the-art pharma facility at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) through its cargo arm KQ Cargo to help meet demand for medical shipments around the world.

According to Dick Murianki, KQ Cargo Manager, the immediate aim of the facility would be to boost logistics for the delivery of a possible COVID-19 vaccine in Africa.

Mr. Murianki says “KQ Cargo has worked closely with pharmaceutical and medical customers to ensure that they are able to safely and effectively meet their vaccine transport needs to travel efficiently once the vaccine has been licenced by the regulators.”

“Although coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic, investment in the pharmaceutical facility will help meet the global demand for pharmaceutical products in preparation for the big task of transporting medications, vaccines, blood samples and temperature-sensitive cargo by providing an end-to-end cold chain logistics solution,” he added.

Since March of this year the national carrier has been transporting essential goods and medical supplies, some 6,000 tonnes of much-needed medical equipment to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi was a distribution and logistics hub in Africa and was ranked by ACI as the second fastest-growing cargo airport in the world in 2019.

KQ has also joined forces with global leaders in cold chain technologies to deliver active and passive packaging with dedicated equipment for streamlined cold chain operations.