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.

United States Delivers 14 Ventilators to Mombasa, Kenya

Mombasa, Kenya, 1 November 2020 – The Government of the United States, through the U.S. The Agency for International Development (USAID) is donating 14 new , modern ventilators to Mombasa, Kenya, to help fight against COVID-19.

This is the new transfer of ventilators as part of the promised donation by the United States of 200 ventilators across Kenya. The 200 ventilators are all distributed directly to hospitals in need of life-saving equipment. Before receiving the ventilators, the United States provided medical professionals with instruction on how to properly use and store the ventilators. If completed, the donation will provide much-needed assistance to hospitals around the country to support Kenyans dealing with COVID-19.

The donation delivers on President Trump’s commitment to provide critically needed supplies to support Kenya’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, and visiting USAID Acting Administrator John Barsa announced the donation of a total of 200 ventilators at the Ministry of Health on October 5, 2020.

As for the donation, Ambassador McCarter said, “President Trump is delivering on his promise to President Kenyatta. This donation is part of the ongoing dedication of the United States to the health and protection of Kenyans and, in addition to the Ksh 7.6 billion already spent on the fight against COVID-19 in Kenya and Ksh 60 billion annually on the fight against HIV / AIDS , tuberculosis and malaria. Donations like these ventilators and drugs have saved the lives of millions of Kenyans.

The ventilators, produced in the United States, have leading-edge technology. They are compact, deployable, and provide Kenya with flexibility in treating patients affected by the virus, as well as those who require breathing support for other conditions.

“USAID is delivering the ventilators directly to the facilities selected by the Kenyan government and ensuring that the serial numbers are recorded in the inventory books of the counties receiving them,” said USAID Mission Director Mark Meassick.

National and county authorities have signed a letter of enforcement banning the selling or export of ventilators. In addition , the United States provides accompanying supplies, service schedules, training and other technical assistance. As part of the Road to Self-Reliance, USAID will educate health care staff not only on how to use ventilators, but also on critical care patient management.

Through the All-of-America strategy, the United States is providing life-saving assistance by working with the Government of Kenya and other stakeholders to identify priority investment areas. Since an infectious disease threat can become a threat everywhere, the United States is calling on other donors to contribute to the global effort to fight COVID-19.

Uganda to sign an agreement with Swiss Pharmaceutical Firm

The Government of Uganda is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding via the Ministry of Health with Novartis, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company based in Basel , Switzerland, to improve the delivery of health services, especially in the fight against Sickle cell.

According to Dr Charles Kiyaga, the National Coordinator for sickle cell program at the Ministry of Health the partnership will allow Ugandans struggling with genetic diseases to access cheap health services from selected government Regional Referral Hospitals.

“The goal of this new public-private collaboration is to improve the diagnosis and care of people with sickle cell disease in Uganda by making a new medication developed by the pharmaceutical industry available to the public at a cheaper price in the four regional hospitals,” said Kiyaga.

In this agreement, the pharmaceutical firm will supply a medication called Hydroxyurea to the Ministry of Health, which is considered strong in the treatment of the symptoms of the sickle cell.

This medication has been available in the country but has only been accessed via private hospitals, making it very costly.

The drug that was reported as an indication of Sickle cell last year will be obtained and distributed to the regional hospitals of Jinja, Lira Gulu among other hospitals.

In addition to promoting the procurement of medicines, the agreement will also discuss other difficulties that the Ministry faces in alleviating sickle cell issues, including advocacy, research, among others.

Kiyaga said, “This collaboration will allow us to engage in advocacy in conjunction with additional organisations to help minimize the burden of Sickle cell and help ensure programs’ long-term viability of the services.”

Hill International Secured $318 Million Egyptian Hospital Revamp Project

Hill International, a global leader in managing construction risk, said it has secured a contract from Cairo University to provide project management services for the Kasr Al Ainy Hospitals Development project located in the Egyptian capital.

Under the contract, Hill International will offer project management services during the design, procurement, and execution phases of the project.

The Kasr Al-Ainy Hospital, located in downtown Cairo in the University’s Faculty of Medicine campus, currently has 3,200 beds.

The detailed of the project will include the renovation of all the existing Kasr Al-Ainy hospital buildings and facilities. It will also involve the construction of any additional facility buildings if the need arises.

On the contract win, Hill Senior VP (North Africa) Waleed Abdel Fattah said: “Kasr Al Ainy is a landmark facility that traces its roots back to 1827. This legacy of healing continues today, and this project will enable the hospital’s professionals to better serve their patients through dramatically improved efficiencies and expanded, customized facilities.”

“Our team will bring Hill’s healthcare best practices from the region and around the world to help ensure the vision for Kasr Al-Ainy is realized safely, on time, and within budget,” he added.

Hill CEO Raouf Ghali dubbed Kasr Al Ainy as the latest evidence of the strength of healthcare in Egypt specifically and of Egyptian economy in general.

“Our company continues to see mega-projects in healthcare and other sectors break ground after long periods of negotiation and coordination among various stakeholders. I expect similar progress on other healthcare projects across Mena region to continue for the foreseeable future,” he stated.

Vantage Capital invests $28.0 million in CIM Santé Group

Vantage Capital, Africa’s largest mezzanine fund manager, announced today that it has made a $28 million equity investment to acquire a significant minority shareholding in the Cliniques Internationales du Maroc Group (“CIM Santé Group”). The business was founded in 1994 by Professor Assad Chaara, an internationally renowned cardiologist who pioneered coronary angiography and catheterization in Morocco, and the company has since grown into one of Morocco’s leading healthcare groups.

CIM Santé Group also owns radiology centres, medical laboratories and laundry service companies in Marrakech and Tangier.

This transaction represents Vantage Capital’s 30th transaction across three generations of mezzanine funds with its portfolio of investments spread across ten countries in Africa.

In Morocco, CIM Santé Group is Vantage’s second investment in Morocco after its investment in Equity Invest, an IT group last year, and it’s the third investment in Francophone Africa.

Following the investment, Vantage Capital now becomes a minority with “significant shareholding,” in the Cliniques Internationales du Maroc Group (“CIM Santé Group”), the fund manager said in a statement.

The hospital which will be the group’s largest establishment to date will have 200 bed and 10 theatres, tripling the groups bed capacity and more than doubling the theatres.

Luc Albinski, Managing Partner at Vantage Capital, noted that “Vantage is proud to have concluded its largest growth-capital investment to date. It is always pleasing when our funds are applied towards building new, leading-edge infrastructure in Africa whether it takes the form of power plants, fibre networks or hospitals. But given the impact that world-class health care can have on patients and on their families, in many cases saving lives that would prematurely succumb to heart disease and other medical conditions, this investment, at this time, with the COVID epidemic raging, is a source of great joy and pride for the Vantage team.”

Driss Benabdeslam, Associate Partner at Vantage Capital, added, “We are proud to partner with the highly-regarded Chaara family and contribute with our funds and our ideas to the further growth of the Group. We are confident that in a few years’ time, CIM Santé Group will be one of the biggest private multi-disciplinary healthcare groups in Morocco.”

Egypt Secures US$500m From Development Partners To Improve Health Sector Capacity

The Government of Egypt has secured around US$500 million from several development partners and multilateral institutions to enhance the capacity of the country’s health sector, Minister of International Cooperation, Rania Al Mashat has revealed.

Al Mashat noted that the ministry has been keen on strengthening international collaboration to support the country’s national efforts and fight the pandemic, both in short term for crisis response and in long-term to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

Al-Mashat further revealed that the funds were dedicated towards the provision of protective equipment, supplies for medical teams and isolation hospitals, and also for strengthening the capacity of the Egyptian Red Crescent.

Some of the funds would also be used in training medical personnel as well as improving public awareness of the crisis, Al-Mashat revealed.

Al Mashat stated that the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a fund of $400 million to be implemented in six Egyptian governorates.

The funds will be used to strengthen UHIS-related governance and institutions and provide temporary financial protection against high out of pocket health expenditures for vulnerable populations.

She also signed an agreement with the World Bank Group worth $50 million as part of the Emergency Response Project to combat the Covid-19 Pandemic for the Ministry of Health and Population.
The Ministry also succeeded in reallocating $7.9 million to combat the COVID-19 within the framework of a major agreement signed with the World Bank worth 530 million euros to develop the health sector in Egypt.

On the same note, Al-Mashat amended an agreement with the French Development Agency for the primary health care project with an amount of $17 million, to purchase medical and protective equipment.

According to Al-Mashat, Egypt also received a number of medical supplies donation from the United States, China, and India.

The Country also received a number of grants from various development partners including Korea (US$400,000), Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, (US$3.2 million), Canada (US$500,000), AfDB (US$500,00) and UNICEF (7.74 million).

The Ministry of International Cooperation also launched the “Kamama” initiative, which was a successful model for cooperation among different stakeholders in society.
It aimed to both empower and protect women in Upper Egypt through providing them with job opportunities in the production of masks.

Al Mashat revealed that currently, the ministry is working to finalize the procedures for obtaining a grant from the Japanese government, amounting $9.3 million.

SA tech company secures major contract with Britain’s National Health Services

South African e-health startup Healthcent, which is behind the Signapps messaging platform, has won a contract with the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS) to provide its software as a service (SaaS) communication platform for the management of clinical communication to NHS Trusts.

NHS Trusts will be able to procure Signapps’ services through a framework agreement which has a list value of GBP3 million (US$4 million) and will run for a period of two years with a potential extension for 12 months.

“The contract with the NHS is a major coup for us, as a South African company, proving that our product engineering teams can create products to compete with the very best internationally,” said Andrew Davies, chief executive officer (CEO) of Signapps.

He said because most of the developments involved in fulfilling the NHS contract will be done in South Africa, the contract will provide work opportunities for those with software engineering and development skills.

A tender published on June 19 by the UK government said the COVID-19 pandemic had “accelerated the need to urgently deliver on Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s long-standing plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021”.

The target date has been brought forward significantly because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, with the tender awarded to Signapps six weeks after being published.

Since its launch in 2017, the messaging platform has built a strong local track record, having been established in numerous areas, including the Chris Hani Baragwanath Paediatric Burns Unit, stroke units within the Life Hospital group, and sub-acute care.

Having recently, on a pro-bono basis, worked within state hospitals to keep healthcare workers safe, it has now secured a significant international deal with the NHS.

“There was an excellent fit between the requirements of the NHS tender and the Signapps messaging platform, including GDPR compliant platform features and points of integration to NHS active directory and Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Said features and integrations enable staff to share clinical information quickly and securely with the minimum of friction,” Davies said.

“The award shows that our platform, already proven to be effective in South Africa, can stand up to international scrutiny and be selected for use in one of the world’s biggest national health systems. I am proud of everyone, both inside and outside our company, who has played a role in developing Signapps to this point.”

Healthcare providers use Signapps to confidentially communicate and share clinical updates on patients, enabling appropriate responses by practitioners in real-time as well as facilitating more generalised communication relating to logistical and administrative matters between teams.

The advantage of Signapps, particularly in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, is that only essential workers need to be physically present with the patient, allowing other members of the care team to collaborate in real time remotely.

Tanzania launched new online platform to fight against fake Medicine

The problem of fake drugs is the big around the world including Tanzania. While the government has introduced regulations on medical business, there are still loopholes that allow people to sell fake drugs both online and in brick and mortar shops, this is due to a lack of verification before drugs enter the market.

Now, this online platform called PharmLinks, founded in Tanzania, wants to stop the crisis of fake drugs. This platform links pharmaceutical suppliers and wholesalers with retailers in Tanzania, to buy quality products from registered pharmacies and also monitor the market.

Frank Arabi, one of a medical student at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, co-founded PharmLinks after he observed a number of challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry in Tanzania, including the problem of procurement, which creates the perfect conditions for the fake drug business. Arabi and his team designed an online system to simplify pharmaceutical procurement and fight fake drugs by closely monitoring companies along the supply chain.

The website provides a list of various pharmacies, products and prices. It provides business analytics and inventory management also provides a chance for end-users to verify the drugs. So it’s a complex system with a range of solutions, said Arabi in an interview with Global Voices. 35 pharmacists can now freely log onto the website and search medical products they want in their shops. The system directs them to wholesaler’s suppliers and stores vetted for safety and lists their prices for each product. The buyer can then choose the products and pay for them online, and soon after, products are delivered.

The World Health Organization says around 100,000 deaths in Africa yearly are linked to fake and substandard drugs and the number is increasing.

Arabi believes that the problem of fake drugs is a big business and needs various approaches to fight it. The global counterfeit drug market is worth around $200 billion annually, according to WHO, as reported by Reuters.

I think this problem of counterfeit medicines is very complex and wide, and it requires a multi-dimensional approach and tackling from every angle of the supply chain is just one of them. we believe in the power of digital health toward improving the health of our people, Arabi told.

In June 2019, the government with Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) issued a warning about the presence of fake medicine in Tanzania that resembled Gentrisone, a medicinal cream used for bacterial infections. Local media outlet the Daily News revealed that 4,118 tubes were found in six different regions of Tanzania.

Pharmlinks has so far linked with tens of pharmacies in Dar es salaam, Tanzania’s business hub, and hopes to connect to hundreds more in the coming year.

The Tanzanian pharmaceutical market faces several challenges, including a black market which allows people to buy medicines on the streets without a required prescription from the physician.

On Tandale Street, 3 kilometers from Dar’s city center, Hawa Alex Dagaa, who owns a pharmacy, admits that some people buy pharmaceutical products from people who have no license to sell drugs, just because they sell the products at a lower price.

Some people are buying pharmaceutical products from people who are trading it around because it’s cheap, but sometimes it’s difficult to guarantee its authenticity.

Dagaa believes that the new online system will not only save time otherwise used to find shops that sell medicine at affordable prices, but it will also help track the pharmaceutical products distributed in the market, reducing the chances of purchasing fake drugs.

Because of traffic jams, it takes a long time to go to find medical products for my pharmacy in town, but with this system, you can log in, you place your order, you pay and they deliver it, she told.

Pharmlinks is not the only digital platform that focuses on fighting fake drugs in Africa. In 2018, a Nigeria based platform, medsaf was launched to prevent fake drugs from circulating in the West African country, while in Ghana, FarmaTrus was also launched.

Pharmlinks works closely with the Tanzania Pharmacy Council, which is responsible for registering pharmacies and pharmacists, along with TMDA, to ensure this system is viable.