Homegrown innovations boost health care delivery
The Nigeria Healthcare Innovation Marketplace (NHIM) has crystallized army of healthcare professionals, scientists, developers, programmers, systems modellers and data crunchers. Consequently, the country has made giant strides in scientific innovations tailored towards improving health care delivery. Top on the list of five major breakthroughs is a Nigeria-made malaria test, Urine Malaria Test (UMT), that can diagnose the disease within 25 minutes using just drops of patients urine sample.
Towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there is a global revolution about how to design and deliver healthcare services especially to those who need it most.
The Nigeria Healthcare Innovation Marketplace (NHIM) has crystallized army of healthcare professionals, scientists, developers, programmers, systems modellers and data crunchers.
Consequently, the country has made giant strides in scientific innovations tailored towards improving health care delivery.
Top on the list of five major breakthroughs is a Nigeria-made malaria test, Urine Malaria Test (UMT), that can diagnose the disease within 25 minutes using just drops of patients urine sample.
The innovations were made public, last week, in Lagos, at the 2015 Nigeria Health Innovation & Impact Investment Summit.
The Nigeria Health and Innovation Impact Investment Summit event was tagged “2015 Disrupting Healthcare, Saving Lives.”
Developed by Fyodor Biotechnologies, UMT is endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and approved by the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The UMT won the inaugural 2015 Health Innovation Challenge Awards. The Awards was instituted by the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) through the NHIM.
Another major innovation is the Medical Devices as a Service (MDaaS). MDaaS is a company that makes medical devices available, accessible and affordable to underserved health facilities across Nigeria. MDaaS provides hospitals with a range of device acquisition options and offer world-class service support with each device. MDaaS offers three different device acquisition options to fit a range of budgets; direct sales, rent lease, and via equipment placement partnerships.
MDaaS, in September 2015, launched its pilot in Nigeria with three private primary healthcare centres (PHCs). MDaaS is supplying the pilot PHCs with over 10 devices through direct sales and is providing routine maintenance and repair services included in the cost of the devices. The equipment supplied includes: ultrasounds; X-rays; patient monitors; ventilators; and defibrillators. The company also has a team of world-class technicians who ensure that devices remain safe and operational at all times.
MDaaS performs regular preplanned maintenance on the equipment; trains hospital staff on how to operate equipment and troubleshoot minor problems; and provides a 24-hour customer line. MDaaS is also building the capacity of a critical mass of medical equipment technicians through its two year fellowship training programme.
Next is e-Heal (Electronic Health Education in Any Language).
Until now, most families in Nigeria have not had access to adequate health messages in their local languages, on overall nutrition, hygiene and good healthcare practices before, during and after childbirth. Where adequate literature is available, low literacy levels prevent families from being able to read and understand the information and education material.
E-Heal was created as a sustainable and persuasive means to improve health education in Nigeria. It is a colourfully illustrated and interactive e-Heal kits distributed to rural communities in Nigeria enable their girls and women of childbearing age get relevant antenatal and postnatal care information in languages they understand.
The kits use a combination of graphics, audio technology and solar power packaged into an interactive messaging book that features appropriate health practices, for instance, infant and young feeding practices. Families including those who have no education at all can use the Mavis pen to touch on a graphic and hear, in audio, what the graphic represents.
Another novel innovation is the Mobile Health Insurance Programme (mHealth) platform by Salt & Einstein MTS is designed to administer social and affordable health insurance plans to all mobile network subscribers in Nigeria thus allowing the entire Nigeria populace to enjoy easier, cost effective and efficient access to basic and qualitative healthcare services. The service is accessible via any mobile phone and the web.
mHealth caters for “Those Who Can Pay” through granulated contribution and those who cannot pay through the AdoptionTree model which allows the high net-worth individuals, philanthropists, corporates, donor agencies and foreign governments adopt truly vulnerable Nigerians by paying their health insurance premiums.
Health innovation caters for the three social-economic strata in Nigeria especially the middle and the low income earners.
Yet another one is Omoni, the easy-to-use android-based application, is a low-cost platform for pregnant mothers to monitor their health and that of their unborn babies. Through health and growth monitoring of children till age five, Omoni seeks to save lives and reduce infant mortality in critical early years. Omoni covers all the aspects of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Childhood survival strategies, which include: growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding, immunization, and female education, family planning and food supplementation.
The application allows for easy monitoring of children’s growth and nutritional status, reminding parents of routine immunization visits, providing a repository of very vital health information, as well as helping them handle some common childhood ailments.
Meanwhile, the Flodor UMT disrupts the existing test model by addressing the urgent healthcare needs of people and providing practical solutions to issues affecting patient care on an individual level, and systemic level. UMT detects HRP2 proteins or fragments thereof shed in the urine of febrile patients based on a novel recombinant antibody technology. The overall performance of the UMT is equivalent to that of the Binax NOW blood test, the only malaria rapid test approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The award given to Fyodor UMT comes with a grant of $100,000 and enrollment in the accelerated programme of the NHIM.
Meanwhile, the activation of the PHN was formally endorsed by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Mr. Bill Gates, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Dr. Muhammad Ali Pate, Mr. Jim Ovia, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Mrs. Sola David Borha and other corporate leaders in Nigeria to mobilize the broader business and corporate community as well as the private health sector towards a multi-sectoral coalition to improving health outcomes.
It has been shown that the private sector has the potential to expand the access to health services, improve quality of care and complement the public sector’s efforts in addressing health system challenges in the country.
Co-Chair of PHN and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, said: “The innovators are not making money but they are contributing to saving lives and improving society. We will give them all the support and definitely they will be making money in the future.”
Chief Executive Officer of PHN, Dr. Muntaq Umar-Sadiq said: “It is important to use innovative platforms to improve health. Despite millions of dollars invested in healthcare we are not seeing the result. So we need bold and innovative approach to improve our health indices.”
He said Summit is to build on the gains of previous Private Sector Health Summits and bridge the gap between spurring disruptive innovations, shaping health markets and attracting innovative financing for scaling up promising healthcare innovations.
Umar-Sadiq said various players in the country including PHN, Health Strategy and Delivery Foundation (HSDF), Flint Atlantic Capital, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and others are already converging a market for healthcare social enterprise and impact investment capital. “For example, the Nigeria Health Innovation Marketplace has curated a pipeline of 42 innovations representing four archetypes of healthcare innovations including; franchising and innovations in service delivery, product specialization, technology enablers and local manufacturers of life saving commodities,” Umar-Sadiq said.
He said the Health Innovation and Impact Investment Summit is to showcase a portfolio of service delivery innovations aimed at addressing market failures and supporting improvement in maternal, children’s and adolescents’ health; and develop knowledge products and market insights from impact investors and innovators within the ecosystem who are at the frontier of making transformative change in the health sector.
Chair of the NHIM panel of analysts that selected the winners, and CEO of ACCESS Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said: “This is a celebration of the future of healthcare in Nigeria. To celebrate people who have come up with very bright ideas on how to change healthcare in Nigeria.
“There were 327 entries but 42 qualified and went to the Boot Camp. After rigorous examinations it was trimmed down to 12 innovations. Thereafter it was reduced to five innovations that will be given grants today. This was based on expert advice that these innovations will succeed and save lives.”
Meanwhile, the first runner up award went to MDaaS with a cash grant of $50,000 in addition to participate in the accelerated NHIM programme.
The second runner up award went to e-Heal with a grant of $30,000 and participation in the accelerated NHIM programme.
The fourth and fifth position went to mHealth and Omoni with cash grants of $20,000 each.
Umar-Sadiq said: “The transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a compelling opportunity for Nigeria to distil lessons from its MDGs experience, reshape its aspirations and ensure a pathway to universal health coverage that provides quality healthcare for all Nigerians.
“Despite some incremental change, decades of investment in the health system have achieved modest and mixed results. Current health programs are inadequate and necessitate bold and innovative approaches and complementary partnerships to disrupt the poor health outcomes and promote well-being for all by 2030.
“The private sector, in its multiple dimensions including large companies, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), private providers, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and social enterprises, is an essential actor in catalyzing, promoting and investing in innovative approaches and social enterprises. The private sector also has distinctive assets, broad reach, capabilities and capital to offer the health system; ranging from management capabilities, innovative financing, mobile technology to supply chain and logistics infrastructure. Indeed, several African countries have ridden a wave of locally appropriate private sector driven innovations to accelerate progress and expand access to quality health services – especially for the poor.
“As a first step, the Inaugural Private Sector Health Summit convened in 2012 outlined; fiscal policy, regulatory and access to capital reforms to unlock the market potential of the health sector and, catalyzed the emergence of the PHN as a country owned platform to mobilize the private sector to improve health outcomes through innovation,