There was a definite urgency to focus on economic diversification, revitalisation of manufacturing, and harnessing of innovation to weather the economic storm forecast for the continent apparent among regional and global leaders in business, government and civil society who attended the World Economic Forum on Africa conference this month in Durban, and the focus of discussion was how to build a more inclusive economy.
At the event, technology consultant company Deloitte Digital Africa leader Valter Adao said that “the metabolism” of innovation in the current business, economic and government environment, from a delivery perspective, is at “a pace never seen before”.
He suggested that, among other things, there was a need for “design-thinking principles” to be implemented in creating newer and future-fit healthcare service models that are suited for the African continent. This can improve health spending efficiency along with health access and outcomes for the general population.
“Governments, and specifically the ministries of health, need to invest in initiatives that are customised and culturally sensitive solutions that can achieve the desired outcomes.”
In countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, where healthcare spend is the highest on the continent, healthcare outcomes remain poor.
“Accepting that Africa needs continued attention to address either the lack of investment into healthcare infrastructure and services, or to improve on healthcare outcomes where the investment is either at or above global benchmarks, suggests the need for more sophisticated and innovative deployment of healthcare investments and that these solutions should be a critical focus area,” Adao pointed out.
He believed it was time for ministries of health to capitalise on wider innovation trends, observing, partnering, enabling and investing to create new business models and incentive and embrace such innovation to enable the addressing of the biggest healthcare challenges in their respective regions.
Change in Focus
“The deviation from the traditional Purchasing Power Parity models is that governments would not be the owners, implementers and perhaps even the investors into these solutions. Rather, they would play a leading role in identifying the healthcare challenges to be solved.”
He added that governments would instead define the design constraints within which solutions had to be created, and monitor and evaluate the desired outcomes, as well as encourage innovation around restrictive regulations to allow for the rapid and scaled deployment of solutions.
The recipients of these solutions would be citizens; and the ownership and investment in these solutions would lie with private or global organisations, nongovernment organisations and technology entrepreneurs.
Adao also suggested that the approach would lead to the improved and rapid deployment of such initiatives to address “the toughest healthcare challenges on the continent though self-sustainable solutions”, thereby contributing towards economic growth, job creation and investment attractiveness of the region.
“If disruption is the new norm of the fourth industrial revolution, then observing, partnering, enabling and investing is the fast track to successful innovation implementations in the healthcare industry,” he concluded.