An international summit focussed on improving the health of communities in Africa and headline sponsored by Morningside Pharmaceuticals has united political, health and private sector leaders.
The 4th East African Health Summit took place in London and looked for ways to support the UK and East African governments with responding to current and future health issues, as well as achieving greater investment in African healthcare systems.
The summit was convened and supported by the Uganda UK Health Alliance, British Medical Association (BMA), British Medical Journal (BMJ), NHS Health Education England, and sponsors Morningside Pharmaceuticals.
Delegations from the UK and African governments, NHS leaders, policy makers and representatives from African ministries of health came together with international healthcare experts, investors, solution providers and business leaders.
Moses Mulimira, UK Lead for the Uganda UK Health Alliance, said: “It will be impossible to achieve national and international goals, including sustainable development goals, without greater and more effective investment in health systems and services.
“While more resources are needed, governments are also looking for ways of doing more with existing resources. They are seeking innovative ways of harnessing and focusing the energies of global health communities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector.
“This summit brought together significant individuals from East Africa and the UK to share ideas.
“We will looked at ways that some of the skills and expertise of the NHS can support African healthcare systems, and of course this works both ways, so the NHS can learn from some of the amazing work taking place in Africa.
“This will undoubtedly lead to more collaborations where nurses and doctors from the UK work in Africa, to help with techniques and the knowledge base there, as well as bring healthcare professionals from Africa to the UK for training.
“The summit also encouraged professional volunteering in both directions, as well as better coordinated joint-working collaborations.”
Lord Nigel Crisp, who was Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) and Permanent Secretary to the Department of Health between 2000 and 2006, added: “Nurses and midwives make up the largest part of the health workforce in East Africa and I believe that some of the greatest improvements in health will come from enabling them to work to their full potential. They are the health professionals closest to the community and with support from technology and medical staff can reach and help more people than ever before.”
One success story from the past year saw Everton Football Club send a representative to attend the UK East Africa Health Improvement Summit in Uganda, as well as pledging the Club’s charitable support for 5 years to the West Nile refugee operation in East Africa.
Part of the summit will look to private sector businesses to provide innovative solutions and investment in African healthcare systems.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) led an event in the House of Lords, chaired by Lord Dolar Popat the UK Trade Envoy to Rwanda and Uganda, where business leaders looked at how promoting private sector engagement and UK exports can strengthen bilateral trade across the East African markets.
Lord Popat said: “As the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Uganda and Rwanda, it is my mission to strengthen Britain’s post Brexit trade and investment with a continent that hosts some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
“Uganda and UK have what it takes to be partners on the road ahead in world class health care. We share a tremendous history, a common working language, and a lot of affection for each other’s countries. We have to work together, so that we can help each other to have a mutually bright future ahead.”
One business which supplies quality medicines to Africa is Morningside Pharmaceuticals whose Chief Executive, Dr Nik Kotecha OBE, hosted a Q&A session on Safe Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Medical Devices.
Dr Kotecha said: “For almost 30 years we have supplied quality medicines directly to African countries by working with ministries of health, and through large aid agencies such as UNICEF, The World Health Organisation (WHO), MSF and the Red Cross.
“In that time we’ve seen some fantastic opportunities and some challenges. Some of the priority areas we focused on included; access to safe medicines and looking for businesses to set up local manufacturing plants to ensure the supply of cost effective quality medicines is maintained.
“More needs to be done to regulate and remove counterfeit medicines from healthcare systems too, and lastly it’s important that medicines that are imported in are transported in a safe and secure temperature controlled way, so they arrive undamaged.”
Another healthcare priority area of the summit was to explore how governments are supporting major health issues, particularly Malaria.
A session will was hosted by Jeremy Lefroy MP, Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, which aimed to raise awareness of malaria and neglected tropical diseases amongst parliamentarians; and to encourage the UK Government to provide political will, leadership and sustainable funding for the necessary prevention and treatment of these diseases.
The summit also looked for fresh ways to galvanize investment in Research and Development including malaria vaccines and treatment drugs, new generations of insecticides and genetic modifications, which would be designed to eliminate malaria carrying mosquitoes or prevent transmission.
The UK East Africa Health Summit took place at the HQ of the British Medical Journal, Tavistock Square, London, on April 27, 2019, with the House of Lords event taking place on April 26, 2019.