Maarten van Herpen, head of Philips Africa Innovation Hub, says improving healthcare systems on the continent will provide business opportunities for many.
“In Africa there is a huge shortage of doctors, and that is not going to change anytime soon. So we need to innovate to empower other health workers to become care givers, while at the same time lowering the cost of care,” he said.
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One of the ways in which Philips is responding to the issue is through their partnership with the Kiambu County, in Kenya, where together they created the world’s first Philips Community Life Center. The center offers healthcare services as well as acts as a technology hub.
“The impact of this innovation is huge. The number of patients visiting this clinic is now six times higher than earlier. In just a few months, over 70 mothers have safely delivered their babies at the new maternity ward.”
Collaboration between government and the private sector is of great benefit to innovation in the sector, especially socially.
“Business solutions have the potential to make a huge impact as they can be scaled to a large size, thus helping governments address these issues on a large scale. The role of government is to stimulate these inclusive innovations, and to give advice to business during the innovation process,” he said.
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Van Herpen said that the healthcare challenges faced on the continent provide an opportunity for Africans to create solutions, through breakthrough innovations, that could possibly be used across the world.
“What I personally find exciting about doing innovation in Africa is that we have the opportunity to innovate and create completely new solutions and new ways of working; this makes it much easier to create breakthrough innovations.”