Africa Healthcare Summit

In London, Adam Thompson showcased eHA’s innovative approach of engaging with the private sector to improve healthcare outcomes in West Africa.

The Executive Director and Co-Founder of eHealth Africa Adam Thompson was recently in London, where he spoke at the Africa Healthcare Summit (17-18 February). He spoke as part of a panel looking at the roles that NGO partnerships play in improving healthcare for people across the African Continent.

Mr Thompson focused on the innovative approach that eHA played in responding to the Ebola response that affected West Africa. He talked about how the eHA team set up the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lagos, Nigeria at the very beginning of the Ebola outbreak, directly procuring services from private sector organisations. These included telecoms companies for services to allow health care workers to track Ebola cases in the field, gas stations for emergency response vehicles, and internet service providers for connectivity to run the EOC.

By adopting a more creative approach and working with the private sector as a partner rather than vendor (which is normally a lengthy formal tendering process), the EOC was set up in one week. This resulted in Ebola being contained within months in Nigeria, and only 20 cases across the country. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone also adopted this approach, and eHA played a crucial role in the setting and scaling up of both EOCs and call centers within months. This was an extraordinary achievement given the logistical challenges and scale of the problem.

There were a large number of high profile delegates present, including eight Ministers of Health, representatives from the African Development Bank, and numerous Senior Managers from leading private sector health companies across Africa, including Siemens Healthcare.  Notable speakers from Nigeria included the Honorable Minister of Health Professor I.F Adewole, who focused on how the President of Nigeria is placing a high priority on health system strengthening given current challenges. The health policy is being reviewed, which includes developing a health ICT framework. We hope that this framework will ensure that millions more from remote areas of the country will now have access to health care.

The second day of the summit focused on discussions around public-private partnerships, improving primary healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the importance of Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) partnerships. The conference overall was a great opportunity to witness how private sector partnerships play a vital role in tackling priority global health challenges.