NPHCDA Begins Vaccination of Health Workers
By Ahmed Rahma
The Nigerian Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has started the vaccination of frontline health workers today.
The agency kicked off the vaccination campaign on Friday after undergoing a final assessment by the National Agency for Food & Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC).
“We have confirmation that they have concluded their final checks with positive results.
“Nigeria can now go ahead and use the 3.924m doses of AstraZeneca vaccines,” NPHCDA stated.
Speaking at the national flag-off ceremony for COVID-19 vaccination at the National Hospital, Abuja, the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, said it is a huge day for Nigeria as “we administer the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
Mr Mustapha, who saluted the commitment of all health workers in saving and ensuring the protection of all Nigerians, said this is a novel roll-out and the only authorised source is the federal government.
“Defined frontline health workers are prioritized globally, for vaccination against COVID-19, due to their exposure to the risk infection with COVID-19 virus in the course of duty.
“The vaccination campaign we kick off today will be in four phases and will align with the planned arrival of vaccines in batches. Each phase targets a specific segment of our eligible population, to ensure equity in vaccine deployment,” he said.
On his part, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said, “The long-awaited day is here, by which Nigerians join others the global community to be vaccinated against the dreaded COVID-19 virus.
“For us in the health sector, it is the start of a tedious but hopeful exercise.”
Earlier in his remarks, the CEO of NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, said, “Today, we are going to be administering the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine to our frontline health workers.
“The vaccines we are administering today are safe and effective.
“It’s a momentous occasion today as we administer the first dose to one of our foremost frontline Medical Doctor in the fight against COVID-19.”
To officially start the vaccination, a medical doctor and a frontline health worker at the National Hospital Abuja, Mr Cyprian Nkong, received the AstraZeneca vaccine, making him the first Nigerian to receive the jab.
After he was vaccinated, Nurse Faith E. Eragbai, Dr Nuru Joseph and Dr Thairu Yunusa also received their own doses of the vaccines.
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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