Discussing the business of health on such a diverse continent as Africa in just one hour is quite an ambitious task! Nevertheless, the expert panelists, moderated by Endeva co-founder Dr. Aline Menden, engaged in an insightful conversation about the challenges and solution strategies they have encountered. Panelist Dr. Mara Guzzetti from Intertek indicated that there is often a mismatch between the promising projections on business opportunities – be it regarding rising FDIs, GDP growth rates, the rising middle class or increasing pharmaceutical expenses – and the realities in many African countries. All panelists agreed that entering healthcare markets in Africa is challenging and requires much patience and preparation; however, they contributed creative and innovative solutions to work around these challenges.
Dr. Mara Guzzetti, for example, shared how Intertek helps companies monitor their supply chains for counterfeit medicine, a problem particularly affecting the coastal regions in Africa. Intertek’s network of pharmaceutical analysis laboratories employ a number of sophisticated physical and analytical investigative technologies to assist companies in identifying fake medicines.
Dr. Michael Rabbow, Team Leader Corporate Public Affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim, stressed the severe shortage of trained medical personnel, which the company addresses through their own initiative in Tanzania, as well as by teaming up with others, e.g. through the German Healthcare Partnership. In addition, Boehringer Ingelheim supports the social entrepreneurs through its initiative “Making More Health” to find ever more innovative business models that address the gaps in the healthcare system – or find creative solutions to work around them.
Dr. Simon Agwale, serial entrepreneur and founder of Innovative Biotech Ltd., shared his equally entrepreneurial approach: his company is currently working on the development of vaccines against Ebola, cervical cancer, and HIV using innovative viral-like particles (VLPs). His struggle to obtain R&D funding motivated him to establish another company, producing and selling vitamin water, which cross-finances his research activities.
The panel concluded that not only companies, but various actors, including NGOs, investors, and governments, must work together to reduce market-entry barriers and improve the business environment for companies aiming to enhance access to medicines for all!
For more information, please contact Aline Menden.
Photo credit: © Fabian Hammerl Photographie