Aisha Buhari Seeks More Efforts to Prevent Spread of Cancer
By Dipo Olowookere
Wife of the Nigeria’s President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has called on stakeholders to engage more women in their effort to prevent the spread of cancer disease and the death of many.
She made the call at the High-Level Regional Seminar on Cancer Awareness and Advocacy at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Thursday, August 2, 2018.
Mrs Buhari urged stakeholders to take advantage of decisions that will come out of the meeting and chart a clear course of action on cancer prevention.
Like in many countries, she said, Cancer is a major health challenge confronting Nigeria as it draws a lot in terms of resources for management and research.
Mrs Buhari declared that a lot is being done as part of efforts to improve cancer management in the country, citing the recent launch of the National Cancer Control Plan, which would guide the implementation of Cancer control activities across the national spectrum.
She expressed the belief that the Plan will guide NGOs like my Future Assured in their advocacy and other support activities.
“We have already engaged wives of governors of Nigeria’s 36 states for the purpose of cascading the campaign against cancer to subnational levels and in the last 3 years, we have conducted screening for cervical and breast cancers that have attracted thousands of women,” she held.
Mrs Buhari said Future Assured programme has reached thousands of women with its empowerment and educational programmes in line with the 2016 Istanbul Declaration on Cancer Prevention, which recognized poverty and lack of education as some of the contributing factors to the rising incidence and prevalence of cancer disease.
In her welcome address, the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Mrs Sika Kabore, the convener, said the Seminar was the fruit of a long standing commitment to prevent cancer, especially among women.
She lamented the thousands of lives lost to cancer every year, with most coming from the developing world and stressed the need to protect the health of the citizenry for the stimulation of social and economic development.
She further said cancer is the second highest cause of maternal mortality, affecting mostly women who only require information to prevent themselves.
Mrs Kabore said the seminar was a sign of a common commitment to fight cancer, especially among First Ladies and urged them to reinforce their role in cancer prevention by advocating for strong public policy measures in their countries.
Addresses were delivered by the Regional Director of World Health Organization (WHO), Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Regional Director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in which they gave graphic statistics on the prevalence and rate of mortality on the Cancer scourge with promises of support to countries.
Ten African First Ladies addressed the Seminar on their national experiences on Cancer control.
The seminar, with theme “Promoting Cancer Awareness and Advocacy Programmes in Africa Member States of the OIC” is a follow up to the Special Session on the First Ladies Leadership on Cancer Control held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016, which committed to equipping the first ladies with tools to ensure leadership in combating cancer through advocacy and strengthening cooperation. President of Burkina Faso, Roch Kabore, as well as the Prime Minister and Speaker of the Faso Assembly attended the Seminar.
THF Secures $50 for Innovative Healthcare Models in Africa
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Funds worth $50 million have been secured by Transform Health Fund (THF) to create proven and innovative healthcare models in Africa.
It will involve building a resilient healthcare ecosystem that improves access, affordability, resilience, and quality of healthcare for low-income patients.
FSD Africa Investments, AfricInvest, Malaria No More, and Health Finance Coalition (HFC) provided the funds to achieve this goal.
They came together to address the critical healthcare financing gap in Africa, targeting three critical areas serving low-income patients: supply chain transformation, innovative care delivery, and digital innovation.
The investments to be made by THF, a blended-finance fund, will target countries across sub-Saharan Africa, focusing on East, Southern, and Francophone West Africa. These investments will address the acute need for quality and affordable healthcare across the continent.
THF’s investment strategy explicitly targets health services for women as one of its main investment objectives. Some of its investments are constructed with a strong gender lens, targeting women-led businesses and serving increasing numbers of women.
“FSDAi is excited to announce its catalytic capital investment in the innovative THF fund. We are proud that our capital contribution to this tranche of the fund facilitated the participation of other commercial and corporate private sector investors.
“Partnering with AfricInvest, HFC and the additional fund participants to strengthen the African healthcare system, particularly in a time of environmental stress and unpredictable climate events, is a high priority for FSDAi,” the Chief Investment Officer at FSD Africa Investments, Ms Anne Marie Chidzero, said.
Also commenting, the Head of the Private Sector and Capital Markets Department at FCDO, Louise Walker, said, “The UK is excited with FSDAi to be a catalytic investor in the Transform Health Fund.
“This innovative partnership brings together concessional and private finance, which will mobilise more capital, critical to making healthcare more accessible to and more affordable for low-income patients across the continent.”
UK Gives Nigeria £2m to Strengthen Health Workforce
By Adedapo Adesanya
The United Kingdom has committed £2 million in grants to support Nigeria in strengthening her health workforce in the vision of achieving Universal Health Coverage.
The grant will cover two years to support the Nigerian government in optimizing the health workforce’s performance, quality, and impact through evidence-informed policies and strategies.
It is part of a larger UK support plan to boost and support healthcare staff recruitment and retention in three African countries – Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana.
In a statement, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Richard Montgomery, said, “A skilled, well-motivated and adequate health workforce is critical for Nigeria to #EndPreventableDeaths and build resilience against global threats.
“This UK International Development funding aligns with the Nigerian health workforce strategic plan and will help the country upskill its workers and improve health outcomes in the long run.”
The 2-year HRH project aims to support the government at federal and state levels and support regulatory bodies, professional associations, and other key stakeholders to develop transformative strategies for scaling up the quantity and quality of health workers, including competency-based curricula development and reviews.
It was announced that it will help to align investment in HRH with the current and future needs of the population and health systems; strengthen the capacity of institutions, including regulatory bodies, for effective public policy stewardship, leadership, and governance, optimize health workers’ retention, equitable distribution, and performance and strengthen the management of Health workforce data for monitoring and accountability. The project will implement interventions in Nigeria.
The project will draw on the technical capacity of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strengthen health systems, including experience in implementing similar projects with appreciable results in the past.
Implementation at state levels, focusing on six states of Cross River, Enugu, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, and Lagos, will build on the presence and technical support being provided to state governments through the 37 WHO sub-national offices in Nigeria.
“The strength of every health system reflects the capacity and adequacy of its health workforce, which are necessary to deliver quality services to address population health needs,” says Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, WHO Representative in Nigeria.
“Through the UK government’s generous support through WHO, we will deploy the technical support from the three levels of the organization to support the development of evidence-based policies and strategies, capacity building and management for improved planning and management of Nigeria’s health workforce”.
Helium Gets $30m to Spread Healthcare Finance Offering
By Adedapo Adesanya
Helium Health, a Nigerian healthtech company, has raised a fresh $30 million to expand the reach of its fintech product, HeliumCredit.
The company, which provides Software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools, financing, and insights to healthcare providers and public health organizations, will use the latest injection to drive growth in some of its expanding verticals.
The round was led by AXA IM Alts with participation from Capria Ventures, Angaza Capital, Anne Wojcicki (Founder of 23&Me), and Flatworld Partners. Existing investors Global Ventures, Tencent, Ohara Pharmaceuticals, LCY Group, WTI, and AAIC also participated in the round.
This is the first of its kind since the healthtech company secured a $10 million Series A in 2020 and 18 months following a rare Africa-GCC deal involving UAE-based healthcare provider-patient interaction platform Meddy.
“We believe in a future where good healthcare is a reality for all Africans, not just the few. We are deeply committed to supporting both private healthcare providers and public health stakeholders with finance, technology, and data to achieve that vision. We are delighted to have such seasoned healthcare investors accompany us on our journey,” Mr Adegoke Olubisi, the CEO and co-founder of the company, said.
In this growth phase, Helium Health also looks to deepen its collaborations within the public health and global health communities, another core focus of its work. Global health funders contribute about 15 per cent of total health expenditure in sub-Saharan Africa and play a critical role in tackling the continent’s leading causes of death, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal and child mortality.
On the part of the investors, Mr Jonathan Dean, Head of Impact Investing at AXA IM Alts, said, “We are delighted to invest, through AXA IM Alts’ impact investing strategies, in Helium Health’s mission of providing digital solutions to improve the quality and efficacy of health services in resource-constrained environments, whilst also directly equipping health sector enterprises with affordable financial services.”
“This investment directly contributes to AXA IM Alts’ broader impact goals of improving financial inclusion and reducing inequalities globally,” he added.
“We have seen first-hand the evolution of Helium Health over the years. The leadership team deeply understands Africa’s healthcare sector and knows how to build products that meet its nuanced needs,” added Mr Noor Sweid, Managing Partner, Global Ventures.
Launched in 2020, HeliumCredit has extended more than $3.5 million in credit to over 200 healthcare facilities in Nigeria, including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and diagnostics centres, which have used the loans to purchase medical equipment, medications in bulk and expand their locations. With easier access to credit, healthcare providers can increase patient retention, increase revenues, and improve the quality of care.
Helium Health will also launch HeliumCredit in Kenya this year, increasing its lending portfolio to 1,000 healthcare facilities by 2024 in partnership with the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
Helium Health aims to be the leading technology partner for public health entities by supporting and implementing their programs and strategies in Africa. Helium Health has received funding from organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and MSD for Mothers to execute projects under their maternal health program strategies in the past year.
The company will also continue to scale its SaaS suite for healthcare providers through HeliumOS, its Electronic Medical Records and Hospital Management Information System (EMR/HMIS) solution. HeliumOS helps health facilities of any size or specialty run their operations more efficiently, increase revenues, and improve healthcare delivery.
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