Kenyan corporates pledge support for health development in Africa

Samsung EA Vice President, Robert Ngeru and Amref Health Africa, Director General, Dr Teguest Guerma

Kenyan corporate leaders and other representatives from the private sector pledged their support for health and health development in Africa at a roundtable meeting organised by Amref Health Africa in Nairobi.

The meeting was held to discuss privatepublic partnerships in health ahead of the three-day Amref Health Africa International Conference that kicks off in Nairobi today.

Besides corporates, the event was also attended by Government of Kenya officials, civil society representatives and the media. Amref Health Africa Director General Dr Teguest Guerma stressed the importance of corporates working with the public sector and civil society in sustainable initiatives that had a long-lasting impact on the welfare of communities, instead of one-off corporate social responsibility projects.

Mr John Musunga, Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline Kenya, Mr Robert Ngeru, Samsung East Africa Vice President, Mr Steven Wandera, Regional Director and Managing Director of Britam Kenya and Dr Helen Gichohi, Managing Director of Equity Bank Foundation, made presentations about initiatives by their companies to improve access to health care in partnership with the public sector.

Amref Health Africa celebrates Global Handwashing Day On October 15, Amref Health Africa joined the world in commemorating the Global Handwashing Day. The day is aimed at conveying the message that hand washing with soap is an effective, simple, and affordable way to prevent diseases. Every year, more than 3.5 million children under the age of five die from diarrhoea and acute lower respiratory tract infections, three-quarters of them in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

These communicable diseases are caused by transmission of micro-organisms (bacteria or virus) from one person to another, either by direct contact, or through contaminated air, food or water. Many of the deaths could be avoided by curtailing transmission through improved hygiene; in fact, 75 per cent of illnesses in homes can be prevented through adoption of good hygienic practices.

On this important day, Amref Health Africa rallied across section of stakeholder from the public and private sectors, communities, to join hands with it in promoting hand washing to save lives ultimately achieving lasting health changes in Africa.

Hand washing with soap is one of the most effective and cost-effective means of preventing the infections that kill millions of children in Africa each year, and therefore a major tool for fighting disease on the continent. Unfortunately, good hand washing practice is not commonly practiced due to lack or scarcity of water and sometime lack of soaps.

Mr Musunga pointed out that there had been a great shift in recent years in the way pharmaceuticals operated that was not solely driven by profits. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), he said, had adopted a tiered pricing model that had made medicine more affordable in developing countries.

Mr Ngeru said that the company had developed smart phones with applications that could help health workers to monitor patients, especially pregnant mothers and children.

Mr. Wandera lamented the fact that only a tiny percentage of the Kenyan population has any kind of insurance, including medical insurance.

Emphasising the relationship between health and wealth, Dr Gichohi said that the Equity Foundation was deeply concerned about health because it was one of the greatest determinants of people’s capacity to work and produce wealth. The Foundation, she said, had developed a national franchise model, now in start-up stage, that would establish clinics around the country, use mobile telephony to reach patients with information on health and health insurance, and train health workers.

Amref Health Africa’s Director of Health Programme Development, Dr John Nduba, outlined the objectives of the upcoming conference and appealed to corporates to support it through sponsorship and participation.

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