Innovation In Nigeria To Combat Healthcare Issues
The Health Innovation Challenge’s key theme this year was to create an active Nigerian health innovation market place, aimed at improving healthcare delivery through innovation, at the end of the challenge they had narrowed down to about 15 innovative ideas.
According to the Commonwealth Health statistics, health is an issue in Nigeria to the point where in the country’s public spending on health was two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, equivalent to 80 dollars per capita.
“I think healthcare is largely ignored in Nigeria, you find that even for the most basic things people have to travel,” said Herbert Wigwe, Managing Director of Access Bank and Chairman of the Nigeria Health Innovation Market Place.
He explains how the situation is so dire that Malaria for example is a greater killer than HIV/AIDS in the West African country, “It basically takes out about 300 thousand lives in this country, perhaps even a lot more”.
The idea that Nigerians are now using medical tourism as a way to access healthcare concerns Wigwe and is something he finds as “embarrassing”, Hence the decision to create a private sector led initiative.
“Where we start looking for innovative ways to help resolve some of the health challenges we face in our country, so that we can resolve them internally without spending a lot more money on international travels, international medical facilities, and developing these economies,” said Wigwe.
They came up with a coalition of private sector institutions to come up with innovating ways of resolving these challenges in Nigeria.
Wigwe added: “What we have done thus far basically is get a lot of innovative ideas, we started about a year ago and we came up with a reward at the time with about a million dollars to spot innovative ideas in health that would save and have significant impact in terms of the lives of children and women.”
The challenge received over a thousand innovators but only honed in on about 300, and today they have about 42 “for is maximum impact”. The ideas ranged from easy mobile telephony to retail to resolve healthcare issues, while thinking of innovative ways to finance them too.