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Healthcare Supply Chain Startups Want to Support Covid-19 Response, Salient Report Reveals

Salient Advisory report reveals healthcare supply chain startups in Africa abound want to support the COVID-19 response.

Healthcare consulting firm, Salient Advisory launches a healthcare report titled ‘Innovations in Health Product Distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa’ calling on donor agencies, governments and investors to accelerate the impact and scale of African health tech innovators working in supply chain.

“Cutting-edge tech innovators in East Africa are developing solutions to help transform the delivery of health information, products and services. As innovators support essential health services and the Covid-19 response, partnerships with health actors, governments, donors and regulators will be critical,” Malyse Uwase, Senior Consultant at Salient, said while launching the report.

The report is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and sets out a series of actionable recommendations for global health actors.

As a result of Covid-19, innovative approaches to distributing medicines are growing. The report engaged 61 health-tech innovators from Kenya and Uganda, such as; Rocket Health, MYDAWA, Maisha Meds, SASAdoctor and Afya Rekod.

The findings show a more than 100% increase in tech enabled business models since 2018, as these companies work to change how healthcare products are distributed. Of the companies surveyed, 53% reported hoping to support the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines by providing trusted information, track-and-trace services, supporting last-mile delivery and aiding in vaccine administration.

Propelled by Covid-19, businesses that pair telemedicine with product delivery are the most common offerings among new entrants. For the first time, the number of innovators that report operating in both urban and rural areas surpassed those operating exclusively in urban areas, driving scale, impact and profitability.

As businesses continue to respond to Covid-19, the report calls for more to be done to support, nurture, fund and provide infrastructure access to innovators across Africa who can have a positive and impactful effect on the health care systems.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in Africa, and in response governments, private sector, donors, and health workers have stepped up. This new survey shows that sub-Saharan African startups are keen to do more to support the distribution of essential medicines and vaccines and are already investing in the technology to do so,” Cheikh Oumar Seydi, Director, Africa, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also comments.

Seydi adds that, “As we work to deliver a fair and equitable approach, we must leverage partnerships and collaborate sector to sector, locally and internationally, to strengthen health care systems and achieve universal health coverage.”

Building on these challenges, Salient’s key recommendations for global health actors therefore include:

  • Reshaping investment ecosystems to ensure more equitable funding and professionalized support is accessible to high-potential African founders, including female founders and innovators in francophone Africa.
  • Catalyzing partnerships between the innovators, and NGOs, industry and governments to enable the distribution of publicly subsidized products through locally-grown, tech-driven platforms, especially in rural areas.
  • Increasing access to affordable working capital and mechanisms to enable innovators to offer low-cost onward lending to their customers.
  • Reviewing, developing and harmonizing regulations for telemedicine providers and innovators offering digitally enabled direct-to-consumer distribution of medicines.

To download the full PDF report (LINK).

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