Sanofi Makes Kenya Hub for All Operations in East Africa

Pharmaceutical Company Sanofi have recently inaugurated their regional office in Nairobi to co-ordinate and dictate all its activities in Kenya and its neighboring countries of Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Sanofi has been very involved in East Africa’s medical sphere of late and has been a chief supplier of medical products and vaccines in the East African market.

“Establishing a regional office in Kenya is a strong vote of confidence by Sanofi on its investment intent for the region,” Peter Munyasi, general manager of Sanofi for East Africa said.

Sanofi’s efforts in Kenya have been focused on managing diabetes and thrombosis. The company oversaw the launch of a new drug for diabetes just last month. The drug-manufacturers however are only one of a number of French companies trying to grow their influence in the markets of East Africa.

Kim Ramoneda, the deputy head of mission charge d’affaire at the French embassy revealed that 100 companies have set-up local offices in Kenya that shows the amount of serious interest the market is attracting presently.

Ms. Ramoneda believes that this interest stems from the nation’s status a regional hub in East Africa and its potential to grow even further. This potential has led many multinational companies from developed western countries like the UK and the United States to flock to Kenya and other parts of the region.

Other firms that have established branches in Kenya of late include names like Bechtel and General Electric.

Tanzanian Government Makes New Raft of Investments in Healthcare

The National Assembly was informed of the allocation of 30bn/- for the purpose of the bettering health delivery services in the districts of Simiyu, Njombe, Mara and Katavi earlier this week. The funds have been released by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children and will be one of their highest priorities this term.

Dr Faustine Ndugulile, the Deputy Minister said that these funds will be used to purchase ambulances and will be distributed in the hospitals of the vicinity to support a growing dmand for medical services and medical products.

While speaking about the investment Dr Ndugulile said that the goal of this activity was to uplift the districts of Itilima and Busega and have them the standards of other health facilities in Kenya. He also said that construction work is focused mainly on the Outpatient Department (OPD).

At least 1.2bn/- has been allocated to improve infrastructures in the districts,” he told the National Assembly. He further added that some 525 m/- was allocated for Ikindilo health centre infrastructure and 450 m/- for Nasa Health centre in Itilima and Busega respectively.

“We also allocated 240 m/- to improve infrastructure in eight dispensaries where each will get 30 m/-,” he said. He announced that during the Financial Year 2018/19, the government has allocated 1.5bn/- for the two districts to improve health infrastructures.

Tanzanian Medical Sector Continues to Prosper with Latest Round of Investment

A group of 38 interested investors including big names like Suma JKT, Africables and Reginald Mengi have earmarked the Tanzanian pharmaceutical sector for investments worth approximately 1 trillion in Medical trade.

Ms. Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children has expressed her delight at the news and reserved special praise for President Magufuli for his efforts in attracting such volume of investment into the nation’s pharmaceutical sector.

There remains a huge demand for both the import and export of medicine and medical supplies in Tanzania today. The nations spends a sum of 1 trillion on the annual import of drugs and medical supplies. This new investment will be a major boost for the economy and will reduce drug prices substantially while creating a large number of job opportunities in the process.

Mr. Charles Mwijage, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment has said that good health will be of prime importance to the administration if they are to achieve the goals laid out in ‘Vision 2025’.

The minister also spoke about how the set-up of factories domestically will help the country relieve some of the pressure on bulk exports and reduce prices for the common citizen. . “We need a strong Tanzanian private sector, we therefore encourage our people to grab the opportunity… the government is working on regulatory reforms to eradicate existing challenges and already the one stop centre is in place,” said Mr Mwijage.

He also revealed that all pharmaceutical entities setting shop in the nation will also have to partner with think tanks for the betterment of the industry. He was quoted saying “Among things needed to put up a factory is technology, capital and market as for the market you already have 1.3trl/- as reference.

We have been informed here of tax exemption incentives of up to 100 per cent on machinery and other things,” he said. The Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Society of Tanzania (PST), Mr Ramadhani Madabida said to procure drugs abroad is politically untenable, socially undesirable and economic unviable. Mr Madabida noted some of the challenges as market access, advising the government to consider the possibilities of paying for locally produced medicines in advance due to financial weakness of the industries.

Tanzania a Major Attraction for Medical Tourism after New Investments

Tanzania is set to become a major attraction for medical tourism amongst neighboring East African countries and abroad after a major announcement was made about the adoption of a cancer screening technology called Positron Emmision Tomography (PET Scan) was announced.

This technology is not available in other parts of the region and according to Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, patients in need of this tech can now avail it in Tanzania instead of being referred to India and other distant countries.

“The government has allocated 14.5bn/- during the coming financial year to purchase the equipment which will be installed at the Ocean Road Cancer Institute,” Ms Mwalimu announced at a media event.

She also rallied for the private sector to get more involved in the nation’s health sector and urged the administration to encourage the private sector by establishing a new incentive program.

Tanzania health sector has progressed incredibly over recent years with invasive procedures like heart surgeries and transplants being performed within the country at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI).

Airtel Tigo’s Newest Product to Boost Rwanda’s Medical Insurance

Airtel-Tigo Rwanda has joined hands with Radiant Insurance Company to bring a new digital insurance product to the public called Ingoboka Cash. This new service is expected to boost the current medical insurance services present in the nation. The product represents a major step in the goal to digitalize the insurance sector.

Ingoboka Cash has revealed two models, both developed for airtel money subscribers. These two plans are segmented based on usage. These variants are Ingoboka Cash y’ubuntu and Ingoboka Cash yishyuwe.

The product will only be eligible to those subscribed to Airtel money and these individuals will be provided with acess to Rwf 4000 on a daily basis to support their medical needs. But this will be based on the condition that the said customer has used a minimum amount worth Rwf 1000 in the previous month.

Phillip Amoateng, Airtel-Tigo Rwanda’s new Managing Director said in a statement that the product was designed specifically with the goal of digitalization of the insurance sector in Rwanda.

It is a commitment we have dedicated to the health and welfare of our customers, Amoateng noted adding that Ingoboka Cash is expected to further boost the uptake of insurance products in the country.

The executive secretary of Rwanda Insurers Association (ASSAR), Jean Pierre Majoro has the impact and the role of innovative products such as these and has credited them for the improved reach of the medical insurance sector.

Kibe Waringa, the Country Director highlighted the importance of the players in the sector to accept digital solutions as it has proved an influential tool in market penetration on a global scale.

“We therefore believe digitization of insurance products and services will rapidly deliver appropriate solutions for the low-income people to mitigate risks and improve livelihoods in Rwanda,” he said.

The partnership between Access to Finance Rwanda, Inclusivity Solutions, Airtel and Radiant Insurance is yet another solution designed to disrupt the insurance market by accelerating the insurance penetration in the country.

Tanzania Allocate Sh161.1 Billion to Healthcare

President John Magufuli has revealed that 170 health centres in Tanzania have had their facilities upgraded over the past few months. The process saw the government allocate a gargantuan amount upwards of Sh161.9 billion ($72 million) to fully complete.

On the completion of this improvement exercise, these health facilities will be fully equipped to perform emergency operations on pregnant women and children as the country continues to work towards first-class maternal and child care.

President Magufuli was quick to express his delight at this latest development at a function where he unveiled 181 vehicles worth an estimated Sh20.75 billion for the use of the Medical Stores Department (MSD). These vehicles will be used for the express purpose of transporting medical supplies throughout the country.

In addition to the up gradation of health facilities, the government has also invested heavily in the construction of 268 more health centres. Tanzania now has a grand total of 7,284 health facilities in the nation. Magufuli also reiterated his administration’s intent to continue in this vein and build more facilities, “This includes construction of regional hospitals in the new regions of Njombe, Geita, Katavi and Simiyu. We are also introducing and improving specialized services in various hospitals in the country,” he said.

Studies of US Lassa fever patient offer clues about immune response, viral persistence

Studies of US Lassa fever patient offer clues about immune response, viral persistence

When an American nurse working in West Africa became ill with Lassa fever and was evacuated to the U.S. for treatment in 2016, it provided a rare opportunity. With the consent of the patient, researchers were able to closely study, for the first time, how his immune system responded, including the persistence of Lassa virus in his semen after his recovery. An experimental drug was also used as part of his treatment.

A new report, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID), describes the patient’s immune response, at the cellular level, to Lassa virus infection. A related report describing his treatment—and that of another Lassa fever patient treated in Germany, who also survived—appears in Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID). Although findings from individual patients cannot be generalized to a broader population, the reports suggest areas of needed research for a neglected disease.

Discovered in 1969, Lassa fever affects an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 people each year in West Africa, where the infection is endemic and causes approximately 5,000 deaths annually. In mild cases, symptoms can include fever, weakness, and headache. Bleeding, difficulty breathing, vomiting, facial swelling, muscle pain, and shock may develop in severe cases. Last year, the World Health Organization identified Lassa virus as a top-priority emerging pathogen for research and development.

Lassa virus is primarily transmitted to people through exposure to infected rats or their droppings and urine. Contact with an infected person’s body fluids can also spread the virus. Sexual transmission has been reported, but the extent of viral persistence in the semen of male survivors over time is unknown.

After acquiring Lassa fever in Togo, the American nurse was treated in the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta by a clinical team from Emory with Lassa-specific laboratory assistance from the nearby Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He recovered and was discharged 25 days later. Several semen samples taken from the patient had detectable levels of Lassa virus RNA, including a sample 23 days after his discharge. During his recovery, he also developed inflammation of the epididymis, a coiled tube near the testicles that stores and carries sperm. The German patient, treated at Frankfurt University Hospital, had detectable Lassa RNA in his semen 64 days after he was discharged.

“There’s no capacity to monitor persistence of Lassa in the semen in resource-limited areas,” said Emory University’s Colleen S. Kraft, MD, who authored the CID report. “Much like with Ebola, we want to make sure we educate individuals who have recovered from Lassa to use safe sexual practices for a while.”

Over the course of the American nurse’s illness, researchers tracked his immune response, including the activity and function of virus-specific T-cells (immune cells important for fighting viral infections) in his body. The response was surprisingly robust and correlated closely with several symptoms and signs that developed late in his illness, even after Lassa virus could no longer be detected in his blood. This suggests that aspects of his own immune system may have actually caused some harm, said Anita K. McElroy, MD, PhD, author of the JID study, who is affiliated with CDC and Emory.
Future studies could lead to the development of therapies for Lassa fever that dampen certain harmful aspects of the body’s immune response, complementing antiviral drugs that target the virus itself. “First and foremost, we need to do this same type of research in more patients,” Dr. McElroy said. “You’ve got to know what’s wrong in the immune response before you can attempt to fix it.”

The U.S. and German patients’ treatment included oral favipiravir, an antiviral drug licensed to treat influenza in Japan that has also been studied as a possible treatment for Ebola. Both patients appeared to experience few serious side effects from the drug, but clinical trials are needed to determine if the drug is effective against Lassa fever, Dr. Kraft said. The patients were also treated with another antiviral, intravenous ribavirin, which is the current standard of care for Lassa patients. Ribavirin’s availability as an intravenous drug, however, is limited in West Africa, where the disease is most common.

In a related editorial commentary in JID, William A. Fischer II, MD, and David A. Wohl, MD, both of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted that Lassa fever remains underdiagnosed and understudied despite being a major cause of disease in West Africa. In commenting on the JID report, they wrote, “After a tragically prolonged pause in Lassa fever research, the work reported by these investigators is an important step in moving the science of this neglected virus into the 21st century.”

IVF pioneer wins 2017 African Child Prize Award for discovery

IVF pioneer wins 2017 African Child Prize Award for discovery

A foremost fertility expert and joint pioneer of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), Test Tube Baby Technology or Assisted Reproductive Technique (ART) in Nigeria, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru has won the African child prize award for Discovery in Science and Innovation was given to Prof Oladapo Ashiru (OFR).

The African Child Foundation (ACF) organized the Award held on June 16, 2017 at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos. ACF is a growing community of young African leaders passionate about humanitarian services.

Ashiru was chosen for the Award after a rigorous search choose to identify with his accomplishments at setting a new agenda for Africa, with his pioneering spirit in the field of health care, coupled with the fact that he was appointed the youngest professor in the field of Medicine in Africa at the age of 32. He has over 40 years experience in the treatment of Infertility and reproductive endocrinology, with several pioneering breakthroughs in medical science including first test tube baby research, first sickle cell free baby pre-implantation genetic testing. He has also pioneered the use of Modern Mayr Medicine therapy in Africa

Ashiru is also the Group Medical Director and Chief executive officer of Mart Group. Ashiru thanked the African Child Foundation for the honor and dedicated the award to all the staff in Mart Group for their professionalism, care and dedication in the discharge of their respective duties every day. He said the Mart Group with the help of God Almighty would endeavor to continue to put smiles on the faces of everyone that comes to us with a challenge and maintain utmost perfection and continue to be part of the world’s cutting edge development in this area of medicine.

Medical device industry introduces new ethics code

Medical device industry introduces new ethics code

The new Medical Device Code of Ethical Marketing and Business Practice allows for self-regulation by the industry, and seeks to ensure that members, and medical devices companies in general, do not offer inducements to healthcare providers or other customers in order to sell, lease, recommend or arrange for the sale or lease of their products.

The development is in recognition of the unique features of the medical device industry. It is characterised by rapid technological advancement and frequent introduction of new products and product lines. Continual innovation requires that healthcare professionals be properly trained in order to use medical devices safely and appropriately, and companies provide demonstration, training and practice sessions on an ongoing basis.

“There is close scrutiny over the healthcare industry in South Africa and globally. The code is an instrument for reconciling professional and business cultures within the medical device and healthcare industries, said Rob Millar, chair of the South African Medical Device Industry Association (Samed) code committee said. The association is the custodian of the code.

“Our industry has a social and moral responsibility not only to customers, but to patients and society at large. Samed members need to have close working relationships with healthcare professionals to provide optimal value to patients and customers. The code directs how this should be done responsibly and by avoiding potentially perverse practices.”

The code is formulated as a user-friendly reference to facilitate voluntary compliance – which is a condition of Samed membership. It is Samed’s hope that in the future, the code may be recognised by the minister of health as an industry-wide code that encompasses all medical device companies.

Some of the provisions of the code are:
Sponsorship of healthcare professionals at conferences organised by third parties will be prohibited from 1 January 2018 – aligning South Africa to European and other jurisdictions;
.Hosting of product and procedure training, or other company events for professional and marketing purposes, needs to have a suitable programme and be held in venues of reasonable hospitality; and
All gifts from suppliers to healthcare providers or organisations are considered inappropriate, while specific regulations guide the provision of items for promotional or medical purposes.

A code with teeth

“The code also has teeth in the form of complaint-lodging procedures with a provision for independent investigation of alleged transgressions,” explains Millar. “It views suspected infringements through the lens of individuals with a sound knowledge of the industry, while introducing experts with an understanding of legal principles and investigational methods.”

The range of sanctions is set out in a schedule which forms part of the code. Sanctions include options of restitution, monetary fines and publication of confirmed infringements together with the name of the company or individual transgressing the code.

The code applies directly to Samed member companies, and their agents and contractors.

Applies to healthcare practitioners

Millar says that the code also applies to healthcare practitioners and organisations in the public and private health sectors in their role as customers of medical device companies – although their conduct is subject to the provisions of other professional codes or legislation. All healthcare providers who make medical product-related decisions, whether clinical or non-clinical staff including procurement officers and supply chain managers, need to be familiar with the code, and avoid infringements or report occasions when it has been transgressed.

In formulating the Code, Samed has aimed to align it with international best practice regarding value-based procurement, as well as with the relevant South African legislation and ethical codes.