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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Elumelu reports that TEF has provided support to 700 African health entrepreneurs

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The Chairman of United Bank for Africa (UBA) Group, Tony Elumelu, has said a total of 700 entrepreneurs have been empowered by the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) in advancing healthcare delivery in Africa.

Mr Elumelu highlighted the innovative ideas of some of the beneficiaries on Monday during a panel session at the Health Leaders’ Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

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According to the TEF founder, private and public sectors and the development world need to prioritise appropriate capital allocation and investments in innovation to drive global improvements in health outcomes.

“My foundation has funded 700 healthcare entrepreneurs, with a gender distribution ratio of 49 per cent male to 51 per cent female, but this is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Some beneficiaries

Mr Elumelu said one of the beneficiaries, identified as Ritalee Monde, is providing affordable medical oxygen in Zimbabwe.

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Ms Monde is making medical oxygen accessible at one-third of the market price, even providing it for free to those unable to afford it through her company- Leemed Supplies.

Mr Elumelu said with her aspirations to establish a medical oxygen production plant; Ms Monde hopes to meet the needs of all 212 hospitals and 1,684 clinics in Zimbabwe while generating more employment opportunities.

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Another beneficiary in 2018, Giancarlo Beukes, founded Impulse Biomedicals, a South African medical device start-up aimed at increasing access to life-saving technologies through affordable innovation.

Mr Elumelu said the multi-award winning device “adopts a “Frugal Bio design” approach – developing commercially sustainable and high-impact medical devices specifically tailored for developing countries.”

He noted that for paediatric asthma patients, Impulse created the Easy Squeezy sleeve that reduces the inhalation force of standard inhalers by two-thirds, making them significantly easier to use.

Investment in research, development

Mr Elumelu further noted that to ensure a sustainable health future for all, there is a need to review the current patent system and effect reforms while still incentivising innovation.

He said there is also a need for incentives for big pharma to partner on research and development (R&D) for diseases from lower-income countries.

“Incentives for investing in R&D and manufacturing facilities for big pharma in developing countries are also important — so leveraging the global trade system is also an important element of global health equality,” he said.

“Even beyond pharma, the same steps should be taken to open up access to medical device research and manufacturing, healthcare business model innovation, and so on.”

On global health equity, Mr Elumelu said there are significant imbalances in the quality of health outcomes, noting that poor countries miss out on investments in research and development and medical devices and practices for health conditions.

“But the quality of healthcare in the world’s poorest countries can have an impact on the richest countries — the world is interconnected, and climate change is making transmission happen faster,” he said.

About Abu Dhabi Health Forum

The Abu Dhabi Health Leaders Forum is an exclusive, invitation-only opening forum and an integral part of the Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week.

The 2024 forum is tagged “Reimagining Health and Life: Partnering to Invest in Humanity”.

Mr Elumelu revealed on his website that he will participate in a high-level panel session with other speakers, including the UNAIDS Special Advocate on Young Women and Adolescent Girls in Namibia, Monica Geingos; Director of the Presidential Court Office of International Affairs, Mariam Almheiri; and CEO, Crescent Enterprises, Badr Jafar.

The forum convenes global health ministers, policymakers, and chief executives of global entities, playing an influential role in transforming the future of healthcare.

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